Shotgun Paintings...COMING SOON!

Refugee Paintings

While living in South Korea, Richardson completed a series of paintings reflecting the colors of the Seoul during hours of daylight and darkness.  To visually affect the sensation of the cityscape during the day, he used a relatively austere color pallet of black, reddish-orange and gray; he incorporated stencil, playing cards and burlap cloth into some pieces to suggest the graffiti ridden grittiness that the city exudes.  In other paintings, the limited pallet gives way to brighter color schemes that reflect the brightly lit neon signs speckling the hillsides of the Seoul at night.  A symbol prominently featured in the pieces reflecting the nighttime atmosphere of Seoul is the Greek or Latin cross - a neon lit symbol that one sees in any direction when viewing the hills surrounding Seoul.

During the summer of 2000, Richardson visited Tokyo on several occasions.  On these visits, he noticed the Japanese used shaped stones with short Kanji inscriptions to identify residences and businesses.  Over time, the stones weather and take on a distinct character as they become streaked from the frequent rains, serve as hosts for mosses and lichens and tilt this way and that.  The stones are somewhat similar to older gravestones made of limestone or slate in the Untied States and are intended to be permanent fixtures; overall, they struck him as brooding, mysterious and an expression of a complex culture of which he was entirely unacquainted.

When Richardson returned to the United States in January 2001, he painted two paintings based on his visual recollection and emotional reminiscence of the stone markers.  Shape was the predominant feature of the pieces; he called one of the paintings Stone Monument and used a photograph of the painting announcement for an exhibition in Washington D.C. in November 2002.  Richardson found the image of the piece had a similar effect on viewers as the Japanese markers had had on him – an inanimate object evoking emotion.

In January 2003, Richardson returned to the stone monument theme.  This time, however, he somewhat disregarded the image of the stone and searched for other motifs to achieve results similar to the Stone Monuments.  He relied more heavily on color combinations frequently referencing Johannes Itten's work on color theory in order to gain a greater understanding of the psychological impact of color.  The brighter color combinations of the new work tended to decrease the brooding character the Japanese stones and the Stone Monuments possessed.  Perhaps the most mysterious and enchanting aspect of the Japanese stone markers is the calligraphic Kanji inscriptions, and, searching for a similar effect, Richardson  used in his work a checker board motif inscribed with binary code - the universal computer language of the late Twentieth Century and early Twenty First Century.

Around the time Richardson returned to the stone monument theme he was also researching ancient Greek warfare for a class he was teaching at The George Washington University on the origins of western warfare.  The characters of Homer's Iliad were constantly on his mind as he worked the paintings; the two pursuits merged to the degree he titled the paintings using characters from the Iliad.  These mythic figures of the Bronze Age – Agamemnon, Achilles, Helen etc. – are unknowable, mysterious and heroic.  Using these names as titles for the paintings helped Richardson associate the ideas he picked up in Japan with occidental themes much as the binary coded aided him in transplanting the Kanji inscription.

In essence each painting is a monument to its namesake.

Series

Expatriate Series

Artist, Washington DC

David E. RICHARDSON

Trojan War Series