John Moore: Elements
February 24th - March 26th 2011
It is the window that makes it difficult
To say good-bye to the past and to live and to be
In the present state of things as, say, to paint

In the present state of painting and not the state
Of thirty years ago. It is looking out
Of the window and walking the street and seeing,

As if the eyes were the present or part of it,
As if the ears heard any shocking sound,
As if life and death were ever physical.

Wallace Stevens, An Ordinary Evening in New Haven (1950)


Elements that comprise these paintings were taken from on-site notations, drawings, photographs, and other source materials in 2009 and 2010. The paintings are composites rather than accurate depictions of actual places. Initial sites from which the core compositions originate range from steel towns in southeastern Pennsylvania to a former textile-manufacturing site in South Carolina, but the works may also include elements found in other places from mid-coast Maine to southern New Jersey.

Locations that inspired these paintings and have the most resonance are marked by the “weathered weight” of time and have associations connected to personal history. Although the feeling about a place derived from direct experience at particular locations is critical, the sites themselves are not the defining reality, but rather the starting point for the compositions. The paintings represent what Wallace Stevens refers to as "the incessant conjunction between things as they are and things imagined."

The paintings are all studio constructions that evolve slowly through specific stages and are altered or revised in a trial-and-error process. The windows that frame the settings anchor visual reality and act as portals to scenes imagined. Parts assembled from different sources are intended to be in character, pictorially harmonious and seamless in a way that gives dignity and distinction to the subject. From the moment a painting is conceived, every step in the process of working on it gives rise to a general idea or a feeling that only becomes concrete as the painting evolves. The paintings are reflections made to respect the facts of appearance and deliver them as clearly as craft will allow, to see what they will look like, and to consider what they might mean. Were that not the case, it would not be so challenging, so frustrating, so absorbing, and so satisfying to do the work.

Because the paintings conflate memory, imagination, and reality, they may not describe real places, but everything in them is true, or could be true, or has been true.

John Moore