In a film, the establishing shot is the first shot of a new scene that puts the upcoming action into a context. Often, there’s a tension to these shots, a promise that something cool, exciting, or of consequence is about to happen. In this way, establishing shots remind me of the splash page in a comic book, which was always my favorite page as a kid. This was where the artist showed-off his skill and imagination and got the reader excited for what was to come in the rest of the book.
For this series of paintings, I wanted to make smaller images that functioned as establishing shots for their larger companion pieces that depict the narrative. The small pieces set the scene, then open-up into the larger images whose scale and action involve the viewer and invite them into the painting.
I’ve been wanting to create this body of work for years. It’s been a goal of mine to think about fantastic images in a fine arts context. I wanted to fuse the grace and sophistication of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Annibale Carracci and other artistic greats with images more often associated with comics, cartoons, action flicks, sci-fi book covers: images that can be playful and complex.
But I had to wait to paint these images. The only way to do them, I felt, was large-scale, and back in Brooklyn, where I lived until August 2009, I simply didn’t have the space to go big. Now that I live in Richmond, VA, I’ve had the opportunity to work in more generous studio spaces, and was finally able to make these paintings in the appropriate dimensions.