My work concentrates on the examination of common objects and how they represent and or symbolize ideas, and their possible metaphoric implications. Referred to often as “rhopography”; or a depiction of those things which lack importance, the everyday objects of life or those objects we take for granted. These paintings focus on those personal possessions that I find curiously engaging. The subjects of interest include: children's toys, grooming accessories, food, or tools. Sometimes I employ objects that ear mark religious or supernatural characters such as divining rods, masks, or spiritual fetish articles. The work may result in objects contextually placed in a still life setting or more ambiguous spaces. Although, my primary concern is with the metaphors that these common objects present by themselves, I am aware that the images presented in a simple juxtaposition of two or more objects express more complex meanings.
In the last few years I have started to isolate and focus on personal effects that relate specifically to personal consumption and identity. A woman’s compact may be an aid for the adjustment of lipstick but also holds the secrets of her self absorption snapped shut in the tidy compartment of her purse. Risque and subjective photographs may be titillating, they are also quite personal and speak of privacy as well. Jewel like insects, the tiny treasures of boyhood fascination or even the food we eat raise questions of adult obsession with consumerism. Issues of identity and consumerism all stem directly and indirectly from strange as well as obvious places in our lives. These visual investigations of isolated objects and/or juxtapositions of personal effects, represent the seemingly obvious. But also the often enigmatic, and yet always metaphorically pregnant meanings.
The juxtaposition of objects arranged by visual artists are similar to that of how many poets lay down verse. It is not the words per se that contain the power, but the unknown image that arises from what was created by the juxtaposition. Defined as the “imago ignota”, it is the combination of words which elevate them beyond the language of the obvious.” I contend that this holds true for images, as well.
My approach to painting is highly personal and intuitive. During the creative process I try to think as little as possible about this work and let the subjects surface from my subconscious. The result is quite suggestive by its contents and symbolically loaded with historical references. This material develops from entirely personal experiences and through obsessions I have with objects and my musing regarding the human condition as it relates to identity issues. The personal subjectivity of this work is not a grand philosophical statement. It is instead more closely related to a genre sensibility characteristic of the mundane used as metaphors for larger ideas.
PJ Mills, 12/12/14