Paul Coleman  Paintings 1976-1991

Middle Years 

The Aviation Paintings are intermixed in all the eras. They are about airplanes, space travel, and such. I made them in the brief moments in which we weren’t at war with anyone. I tended to associate them with my schoolboy notebook doodles, of which I had done quite a lot, so they had seemed rather innocent. There is a somewhat embarrassing element to them now, as nothing about airplanes can be nostalgic or naïve any more. Air Show Kids (1983), a late attempt to be photo-real, was meant to be an ironic observation about military recruiting disguised as entertainment. Rocket Girl (1983), is a nagging enigma to me, such that I once threw it out and then saved it from the trash. Nomex Paradise (1984), is meant to be an observation about being consumed by technology.

A good number of The Gesture Paintings (1982-84) were done under the influence of reading books by Thomas Pynchon. They might refer to scenes in Gravity’s Rainbow, or they might just be about the figure. I still rather like Neither Ladder nor Ramp (1984), because it was one of those images that surprised even me. A World of Their Own (1982), is about an actual vision from my work-a-day carpentry job that also continues to feel important.

The Rocket Paintings (mostly 1985) refer directly to Pynchon’s big book, Gravity's Rainbow. I once tried to summarize his theme of technology-as-Golem by writing that, ". . . slower than glaciers and more real than dreams the rocket builds itself out of our own longing for salvation." Ahem, well . . . a painting of a single rocket is called Homage and is named for a pioneer who suffered directly the whims of the rocket that was to be. A painting of two rockets is called a Heresy because, after all, in this mythology there can be only one true rocket.
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