RICHARD MONINSKI

Artist's Statement, Paintings and Works on Paper, 2004-2005

For several years I had been making paintings and drawings that employ camouflage patterning as either a formal device to organize diverse imagery, as a signifier of deception and concealment, or both of these. Frequently I painted on printed camouflage fabrics, the original attraction being camouflage's ability to be both a collection of abstract blobs and squiggles and at the same time a representation of some aspect of nature, usually foliage.

This ability to be very abstract on the one hand and representational on the other has allowed me to explore various, and sometimes related, strategies for making paintings.

Contemporary camouflage fabrics span the continuum from the highly abstract geometry of digital military camo to the highly rendered representations of plants and trees in designs produced for hunting apparel. In recognition of this fact I have made paintings that play with the idea of camo as pattern and decoration, often layering patterns of different camouflage and exploiting the variations of the individual shapes. These paintings concurrently focus on different levels of representation, frequently using some of the conventions of textile and surface design in the rendering of the various motifs.

Camouflage's traditional associations with hunting and the military carry with them an implicit threat toward a potential enemy or prey, and this concept has inspired me as well, in works I have made which allude to current social and political issues. In this body of work, I appropriated snippets of text from junk mail and combined these with often centralized, iconic images, frequently blending this imagery in with the color scheme of the existing camouflage pattern.

The fact of camouflage invading the world of fashion apparel should come as no surprise when we view camo as part of a larger, centuries-long tradition of the rendering of plants and flowers in textile and surface design. In light of this tradition, both a flower print fabric for a dress and a camouflage print for a uniform represent an idea of nature controlled, systematized, predictably repeated, and ultimately subdued.