In our Noted Space
October 29-December 3, 2011
Opening reception Saturday, October 29, 6:30-8:30pm
Paul Booker is a Dallas born and based artist. He studied art at the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in drawing and painting and finished his graduate studies at the University of North Texas in Denton. He is both a sculptor and a painter, but his work blurs those divisions. His sculpture consists of small hand drawn shapes printed onto thin plastic, then cut out and pinned together using insect collecting pins on the wall, creating complex architectural structures involving hundreds of pins and drawn shapes. The paintings mask the lines between two- and three-dimensional spaces, layering hand drawn images of clear gloss polyurethane. The upper layers of the drawings "float" on top of the polyurethane surface, casting shadows down onto the lower layers.
Booker chooses organic shapes from his interest in how everyday visual images, such as text boxes or arrows, can become contents or signifiers of information, yet when left empty or isolated might develop their own intelligence, much like a swarm of ants or a flock of birds.
Paul Booker was an Artist in Residence at the University of North Texas PRINT Press. His upcoming show opens on September 24 at the Museum of Southeast Texas in an exhibition entitled Obsessive Worlds. Selected exhibitions include the Dallas Museum of Art, Austin Museum of Art, 69th Regiment Armory in New York and the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth.
I am an abstract painter and sculptor although my imagery and subject matter emerge from a very concrete network of sources that continue to fascinate me. Through my work, I respond to visual phenomena occurring in nature as well as human interpretations of those naturally occurring forms. Fluid dynamics, animal flocking behavior, insect swarm intelligence, human architectural forms, biological atlas illustration and even ornamental patterns are all forms of natural and human-made design that I explore in my paintings and sculpture.
Q&A with Paul Booker
How does your work constitute the obsessive aesthetic?
A common thread throughout my work involves the idea of density and the end result of density through the accumulation of multiple layers of sparseness. I am interested in randomness and the idea that there may not be any such thing as true randomness because natural processes tend to obey certain laws which cause them to look similar, but never exactly alike. For example, while it is true that no two persons' fingerprints are exactly alike, it is also true that fingerprints tend to look very similar to one another if you compare them to, say, cracks in a sidewalk or clouds in the sky.
Has the obsessive increased gradually or was it always present?
I have to say that obsessiveness has been a genetic trait since it spans three generations of my family. I think there is a difference between the collector and the hoarder. While my mother tends to collect dolls and Christmas tree ornaments (which now need their own room to house them), she also has a reluctance to throw away newspapers, coupons and junk mail/ Which tends to pile up until my father decides to clean house and recycle the paper. Now, my grandfather was a hoarder on a grand scale. He was a farmer in southern Oklahoma and was a child of the great depression and he never threw anything away for the fear that he might need it someday. That included cars, trucks and farm equipment. After he died in the 1980s, the metal scrap yard pulled 39 cars and trucks dating back to the 1930s out of his property in various states of decomposition. As a child I spent countless hours wandering around this gigantic rusting playground and this has become a huge influence on the visual aspects of my work to this day.
While I have a fairly large collection of books and records, I tend to think of myself as a collector of influences. The visual outcome of my artwork never comes from a single influence, but rather a multitude of very different visual influences. Those influences might include comic books, fluid dynamics, organic decomposition, animal flocking behavior, insect swarm intelligence, internet input text boxes, human architectural forms, biological atlas illustration and even ornamental patterns.
What is your evolution within this mode of artistic creation?
I tend to view the growth of my art more in line with that of a tree, which has multiple branches, than in line with a ruler with a single direction. When you view growth as a single linear path, revisiting older aspects of your work seems regressive, whereas when you view growth in terms of multiple branches, it makes perfect sense to revisit each of those branches now and then.