‘Three of Me’, 24″ 32′, oil on panel. 1996.
I had a small mirror to look at when I was working on this series of paintings. All the characters in Domesticated are using some form of my face, including the female characters when they show up. They are not intended to be photographs, they are impressions.
I was in a fury through most of this time as I had recently lost the lease on my gallery Bedlam. It was a bank desicion. The complexity of the Neurotica pieces seemed to intimidate people. A large field of skin tones is upsetting, its supposed to be, the work isn’t intended to decorate your bathroom. Cartoons are very popular and that was the basis of the style. A simple line drawing with the blood coloured paint mix, either with a knife or a brush. The colours filled in after the lines were in. Then the colour of the uniform I used to capture the psyche of the viewer just with colour. They all wear uniforms, just like you do without realizing.
This was actually ten years prior to the diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, or whatever they are calling it now so as not to upset anyone, because that’s more important. I thought there was something wrong with me for most of my life, partly from people saying ‘there’s something wrong with you Graham’. The sadness and anger were there at the same time, all the time now, an emotional roller coaster running at high speed. A speedball of emotions, chemicals dumped into my blood by my own brain, thanks brain, endorphines and adrenaline, speed and morphine. At times no sleep for days. Which is great for creating the physical works, but there is always a crash. And sleep for a day, then do it all over again.
I’m sure now my brain was cooking itself. I was addicted to my brains behaviour. The psychologist actually said this in session, I am addicted to myself. At this point there were no other drugs, or alcohol for years. It was enlightening and exhilirating to feel that mania without anything. The paintings had to happen, they kept me from putting all the energy I had into bank robbery or something like murder. Painting keeps me out of jail.
And twenty years later it was pretty much the only conclusion the psychiatrists and psychologists could muster. I’m not really an artist. I’m an aggresive mentally ill patient of theirs, who paints pictures to keep from killing all of you. I had no choice but to visit with them, I was on yet another death bed, the crashes can be deadly too. I needed them to keep me alive, so I can paint. That is what I always said about my work, I’m a painter of things, the word artist is yours to use as you see fit.