Art         Science    & Alchemy™

Artist Statement


Incorporated into my works are different yet related elements. In all these paintings there is a common thread of primitive/modern concepts. The nature of Abstract principles is explored and expanded. The application of color, texture and form weaves and evolves from one series to another. The primacy of paint, materials, and the picture plane are foremost in intent.


The analogous nature of the symbols, myths and artifacts of primitive and modern eras that have evolved are fascinating and informing. The similarities give voice to the quintessence of human existence. By probing their meaning a painter can learn about his own visual unconscious. The painter's visual vocabulary is thus broadened and these images can be drawn upon both from a deep visceral and a consciously aware level for communication through painting.


Abstract art is simply the highlighting of an intrinsic part of all art. A painting may look real, but it is not that which it depicts. All art is an abstraction, an illusion. Painting is a means of expression which utilizes a visual language. It uses symbols, colors and textures which draw on the thoughts and feelings of people. The painter speaks from his head and heart through his hands.


One of my recent series The Papua New Guinea series of paintings is an abstraction from the ancient and brutal spiritual ritual of head hunting practiced by tribes in Papua New Guinea. A small group of isolated tribes settle their differences by continuing this practice to this day. By possessing another's skull the Papuan's believe you acquire possession of the spirit and power of your enemy. The trophy heads are then displayed on a "skull rack". The members of these tribes also retain and decorate the skull of ancestors to honor their spirit and to retain their power.


The paintings in this series are of oil, copper and herbs on paper. They depict and create an earthy, yet ethereal image of these ghostly heads and skulls.


Death, an integral part of the circle of life, is accepted in every day existence in primitive cultures. I am fascinated by societal practices which energetically celebrate the spirituality of death, its dynamic and ongoing interaction with the animate. (Dia de la Muerte in Mexico, Mardi Gras in Brazil, cremation on water in India are examples of highly symbolic, wild, colorful and marvelous tableaux that embrace death as part of the flow of life.)


The practice of head hunting acknowledges in a stark and ghastly manner the power of the human spirit. Capturing and conceptu alizing these images in oil heightens my awareness of the essential spirit that drives life. My paintings seek to express the mystical aspect of this custom by use of color and texture. The subtle colors and hues emphasize the ghost imagery of this macabre ritual, with the intense color and texture accentuating the vivid brutality of the head hunting practice. The paintings intent resonates ethereally with the presence and power of Spirit.


The Oysters, Cephalopods, and Other Invertebrates series incorporates the use of real artifacts from nature, while creating abstract forms. This series is an evolution and continuum over the years of my interpretation of abstract and primitive art . The conflict of reality vs. abstract is accentuated through the use of parts of animals and objects found in nature incorporated into an abstract milieu.


The Red and Yellow Series are highly refined abstract pieces which emphasize intense color, texture and the primacy of the flatness of the picture plane. From these paintings emerges the mind, guts and spirit of my experiences.

These pieces emphasize the chaotic and the formal, the primitive and modern. Throughout my work there is a common thread weaving from; one color, one phrase, one piece, one series. These constructs are fused and congealed with concepts from multiple sources and images.


©2014 Barry Feuerstein. All rights reserved.