“I have always worked with traditional materials – canvas, paper, paint, ink, etc. The basis of the surface sets up limitations from the outset. I find those limitations beneficial. If it’s oil paint and other materials on canvas, the materials set parameters within which I work. Next, each group of works starts with a concept. Nothing is tabula rasa. But what happens in the act of producing, of creating, takes on a life of its own. I have never produced a piece of art that looked like what I thought I was going to make. I have worked intentionally with my left hand at times, being a right-handed person, often placing strokes and lines backwards to override the penmanship I learned in school as a boy. Each work within a group has its own self-generated identity. Yet they all work together as in a conversation. Ironically, at the point they are completed, I have no expectation as to what they ‘say’ and wait to hear from others with their reactions. It’s then that I see what the works might be fully about.”
The art of Paul XO Pinkman is an examination of the relationship between identity and the things surrounding us. His work surfaces ideas of immediacy and intention. Starting with a personal intent, his work depicts a concept, usually through several pieces in a series. Subsequently, he elicits how people viewing the work understand it, whether by means of individual or common connections. His works are imbued with influences of his long-term Buddhist meditation practice and his study of philosophical and analytical thought.
By thinking we know what we are looking at when we see a painting, drawing or photograph, and by how to interpret its various parts, each of us, as viewers, creates every work of art. The underlying basis for all the works from the artist’s perspective is there is nothing inherent in them. They are, of course, materials. They have form, both fundamental and drawn or painted. But the resulting images are always just referential. The form evolves over time. The meaning changes over time.
His work is at its best when it illustrates something that makes the viewer question why. “When someone looks at a piece of mine and is confused or discomforted by it, that’s when it’s at its most successful.” In at least one series of works from the 1990s, horizontal and vertical elements are used as iconographic references. These bars, stripes, horizons, etc., provide the handle to latch onto. Mr. Pinkman strives in his work to capture his own dissatisfaction about our connection to everyday experience. There is always a beginning but the ending, the meaning, is unclear.