I have a green hat. I refer to it as my "lucky cap" or sometimes as my "thinking cap". On the face of this hat is a small, tattered, stitched patch of canvas. I painted two shapes on the patch that are closely the same, one slightly overlapping the other. The shapes resemble amorphous triangles and within these outlined forms are two repeated solid forms. The solid inner shapes mimic or conform to what the outside line dictates.
I am not sure at how I arrived at this mysterious shape but, over the course of time it has become a reoccurring motif. It can stand alone at times or appear in pairs. When singularly it looks like a nose, a mountain (or hill), mouth to a cave, a slab of raw meat, a footprint... When the shape is repeated, it looks like any number of things that happen to come in pairs- eyes, nostrils, mountains (or hills), caverns, cuts of meat, footprints, lungs...
The shape has become symbolic for me. I am using an abstract shape to represent an abstract idea in a poetic way. The form has in some ways become a signifier for myself. It has also developed to be spiritualized- a malleable triune. This shape has become my headdress, my bald eagle, my trident, my identifier.
I was reminded of the painter, Forrest Bess, who during the early 1930's up till his death in 1977 coined himself as, "a visionary painter" devoted to personal symbology. He became a student of religion, psychology, anthropology, and art. Over the course of time Bess began to mold these areas of knowledge into his own eccentric vocabulary and belief system. His paintings are small in size but grand in inventive shape combinations, color schemes, and exquisite compositional arrangements.
The element of time being spent on each surface can be felt. These also feel like paintings made alone and in secret. The touch with the brush or tool is varied and deliberate- almost calculative with the exception of some spontaneous active moments. Even the intentional framing of each painting throws the object into "relic-like" categories.
Many Bess paintings can feel hallucinatory/dreamscapes. Much of his life was filled with past traumas that initiated visits with psychiatrists and ultimately would have Bess institutionalized as having paranoid schizophrenia. Painting proved to be his symbol for peace time.