I paint in order to see things that would not exist if I did not paint them.
As I get older, it gets more difficult to write about my own work. However, the less I am able to articulate what I do, the more I trust in my process.
I collect outdated (pre-photography) textbooks, topographic maps, manuals, and documents. Paper that has lived a life and shows its age compels me to paint.
I am intrigued by systems I do not understand and by information that is no longer relevant.
In the same way that dreams do not match reality yet contain an internal logic, I combine elements in an intuitive way, seeking relationships of form and color. The process guides me and I trust the ideas and narratives in my subconscious. Between apocalypse and paradise I seek metaphors for human hubris. The printed text on the maps can be altered, the locations become blurred, gravity sometimes fails.
I find the same family of forms in images of the solar system, botany, airplane engineering, cattle disease, microbiology... To create a place on the canvas where these images can live together seems natural. The combination of excavating imagery from topographic maps and imposing found images allows me to jump in space, scale, and meaning hundreds of times within a few square inches. Scale is spiritual for me--fractal forms echo infinitely, from the microscopic to the cosmic.
Besides culling forms and generating tales from peculiar antique sources, I am also looking to art of the past. Artists like Klee, Redon, Turner, Breughel are alive for me. Romanesque and Sienese art are alive for me. Inked Chinese landscapes do not feel distant or ancient, but eternally present. I can’t fathom why any contemporary artist would be content to be of this moment only.
Most of the time, I am able to trust my own hand and rely on my eye. I try to quiet the internal voices; the ones that demand reason, and the ones that demand chaos, the doubting ones. I add and subtract until the work makes sense and offers me a genuine surprise. But, as much as I want visual harmony and a narrative for myself, I also want the paintings to be a project and a puzzle for the person looking.
Artist Bio / CV
Josh Dorman was born in Baltimore in 1966. He graduated from Skidmore College in 1988, then received his MFA from Queens College in 1992. Dorman’s work has been exhibited in solo shows at The Craft and Folk Art Museum in L.A., Mary Ryan Gallery, The CUE Foundation, and Pierogi Gallery in New York City, Galerie Francoise in Baltimore, George Billis in Los Angeles, at Hallwalls in Buffalo, and at Morgan Lehman in Connecticut. His works have also been included in many group shows, including the Drawing Center, the National Academy Museum, and the Islip Art Museum, The Naples Art Museum, and Hunter College. Dorman’s works have also been exhibited internationally, in Traun, Austria and Leipzig, Germany. His exhibitions have been reviewed in such publications as Modern Painters, ARTnews, Art in America, Art Forum, The LA Times, The New York Times, The New Yorker and The New Republic. He works in a studio in Long Island City, and has been granted residencies at Yaddo and the Millay Colony. He has taught painting in and around New York, including at Skidmore College, City University, Rider University, and at the Spence School.