|What exactly was the purpose of the cave paintings
at Lascaux and Altamira? Were they an early means of communication? Visual remnants of some prehistoric magic rituals?
Or simply personal expressions of the cave's inhabitants? Whatever the ultimate purpose of these petroglyphs created
by our artistic precursors, they certainly give evidence of the existence of these ancient cave dwellers and their
desire to make images significant to their lives. And so it is with myself---a seeker in this modern world who
wishes to leave behind some evidence of my own presence and striving in this world.
My work is an ongoing process of unifying conceptual themes and the formal issues of painting. The themes that I pursue grow out of my own experience, my own confrontation with the human condition. Having a deep interest in philosophy, I intend to visually plumb the depths of existence with my painting. I rely heavily upon the figure as subject matter. The inspiration for my expression ranges from the sober contemplation of the "big issues" in life to the subtle encounters with the infinitely rich designs of nature.
My work has evolved from a traditional style and subject matter (e.g., Vanitas with Cow Skull) to a more modern approach to imagery. Yet, throughout all the work weaves a common thread of reference to the human condition and the nature of our being. I often use literary themes as points of departure. For example, Of Wax and Wings draws upon the myth of Icarus. With one hand reaching toward the upper realm of the spirit, and one hand touching the ground, Icarus embodies the tension between our spiritual longing and our physical limitations.
In my work I strive for harmony of form and content. Thus, in Job the figure is draped in vertical drips of paint in an atmosphere of blues and muted ochres, echoing the content of pathos and suffering inherent in that theme. The multiple figures refer to the stages of Job's response to his suffering: from the bitter, accusatory gesture toward God to the upward reach of spiritual resolution.
Influences upon my work include the passionate figurative work of Rico Lebrun, Leonard Baskin, and Francis Bacon. Other painters who continue to influence my artistic development are Graham Sutherland, Richard Diebenkorn, and Picasso. I am also inspired by literature and music, particularly the work of the late musician-poet Mark Heard whose insight into the human condition can be found even between the syllables of his lyrics. In addition, my aesthetic fires are fueled by an ever-growing visual dialogue with nature through the act of drawing; my sketchbook is a close companion.
Ultimately, my desire to make art springs simply from my being human. Making art is intimately connected to my self identity; it is a way to leave behind the fingerprints of my existence. From this personal expression, however, I wish to communicate on a universal level. Thus, the challenge I pose to myself as a painter is to express important personal themes in a modern idiom with full awareness of both traditional and contemporary visual issues.
Gregory Eanes, 1999