At any given time I have a family of paintings in progress that share technical discoveries and observations. My paintings all start at the same place but as I work they take on individual personalities. The associations the paintings generate are chaotic at first but as the piece picks up mass ideas become more defined and specific. In my newest paintings I’m beginning to work with a poetic narrative weaving together myth, science and psychology. It’s this evolution of a painting that keeps me in the studio. Everything comes together when I paint.
I have found that painting flat with self-levelling materials encourages chance and accident. This element of the unknown keeps the mystery alive for me. I work without preliminary drawings or ideas I just start applying paint. When the paint layer reaches it’s maximum thickness I cover it with a clear coat. The clear coat can be up to a quarter inch thick creating a new, flat painting surface. On this clear coat I start a new paint layer. There can be up to three paint layers with separating clear coats in between.
In allowing a sense of unknowing to guide my painting I feel there is more to the work than my human intentions and thoughts.
“Bruce Riley is an alchemist. It’s an overused term in abstract painting but in this case it’s true. Using experimental techniques for creating the paintings for his current show, Riley plans his paintings, but along the way he wrangles the accidents and mistakes that are inevitable. In the studio he focuses on flow allowing immediate observation to guide a painting’s progress. He keeps everything fresh within his daily routine by working on multiple works which inform and feed on each other. He cannot say what it is that tips a painting in one direction or the other. It’s just apparent to him when something is done. The process is a living thing that’s of the moment. The recent paintings have a psychedelic, organic sculptural feel about them. They are process-driven, relying on chance as much as intent. And chemical interactions within the paint are always welcome. Riley paints for himself, but if the viewers were to forget themselves while looking at these pieces, they would be as close as one can get to an understandable meaning.” — by Aron Packer, Director of Bruce Riley’s Gallery in Chicago
For more information, visit Bruce Riley’s website.