The Works of Dan Pate
In this series of paintings and sculptures I freely recreate in my own way, principles of growth and metamorphosis, explore the genesis of the image of life, and allow life’s images to change and morph into the images and symbols of human culture.
I do not seek to represent nature in my paintings, but to present nature as it flows out of my own natural being. I am aware that most often I do not conceive of myself as being a natural being at all. Being a product of modern America, I think of myself as an artificial being, a product of a culture which is mainly based not on living nature but on rigid mechanical concepts of efficiency. However, the laws of life and of color exist as tangible realities within my self, as a human being, and I have endeavored to create paintings and sculptures out of some awareness of the guiding structures of these laws.
I am blessed to find that I am a natural composition myself. The organs of my body continuously exist in complex and harmonious relationships. Are the movements of my inner spheres perhaps responsible for something of my cerebral sense of composition? I believe this can be a key to a reconnection to the creative impulse of nature. The sense that guides a painter or a musician to compose is also akin to the logic that a naturalist discovers connecting the various components of a forest: moss, trees, understory, etc. Nature always composes herself. As an artist, I have the longing to enhance the composition on a human level, to intensify, concentrate the impressions, and also to condense time. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of painting, and especially abstract painting, is to present many moments in one moment. In the past, when someone had their portrait painted, it took many days to achieve, and in the end the final image had a quality that transcended the moment, the snapshot.
Another important aspect which enters into many of these paintings is the logic of metamorphosis. The series of sculptures called “From Seed to Bird” explore the question of which types of line and form belong to the plant vs. animal kingdom and the question of how forms develop out of each other. I believe there is a formal aesthetic logic to metamorphosis, as well as a genetic logic. For me they are both part of the same nature. I experience recurring amazement at how forms can logically develop from one to the next on a purely aesthetic level and believe that this phenomenological experience of nature is just as valid as a “scientific” one.
Images of culture, symbols, and humans arise in the paintings unbidden. The “symbols” which you may notice in some of the works have all arisen as compositional elements which I have allowed to harden into symbols, they have in effect, crystallized out of the painting. They are the most lifeless elements, but provide a contrast, and have for me no “meaning” other than as essential compositional ingredients.
Images pour into the void, patterns form in the silence.
Flowers bloom, die, cast rainbow shadows everywhere. The eye sees it all,
The eye born and dying in the sun.