Many years ago I was a film student. Silly as it now seems, what I wanted was to make horror films. Growing up I loved the horror films of the thirties and forties made by Universal Studios and as a young filmmaker I wanted to capture and build on their visual style and knack for running imaginatively amuck. I never had a film career, although aspects of those movies found their way into my drawings and paintings: That sense they had that the world is a mysteriously appealing (but also mysteriously perilous) place, something to be approached with both wonder and caution. I’m not referring to the exaggerated ideas of good and evil, but to ambiguity, to the dangers that exist in even the most innocuous-looking things, of the difficulty of distinguishing safe from harmful merely by sight, or sometimes even by experience. Some of my pictures, I admit, are pretty. But that doesn’t mean they’re benign. They should cause you to ask, “If that shape in the painting were real, would I touch it?”

 

Happenstance is always the boss. The universe isn’t hostile toward us; it’s indifferent, which is even more unsettling. The randomness of it all is bigger than anyone’s reason. And for me, that’s the most frightening thing: to not be able to reason with something, to avoid the world’s dangers despite knowledge, experience, eloquence, logic. However, in art, if your reason has been disarmed, you have the chance to encounter qualities that might cause you some unease, but which also might reward you in some way—hopefully, with a genuine sense of wonder. I want to disarm the viewer’s reason and reward them with wonder.