The Spirit of Myth, 2005

In Claude Levi-Stauss’s “Structural Study of Myth,” the French anthropologist, in very analytical scientific terms, breaks down the common denominators of mythology to demonstrate how the function of myth remains consistent regardless of culture or time. This timeless quality endures due to the fact that the story need not be linear, with each of its parts being equally interchangeable. Each of these stories functions as a collective dream with latent content. The paintings in this exhibition function much in the way of traditional mythology, without associating directly to specific cultural myths. The work finds its roots in the intrigue of the unfolding story. From primordial mythology through the twentieth century lore of J.R.R. Tolkien and George Lucas, my fascination has always revolved around the art of story-telling.

While these painted stories unfold without premeditation, the true challenge lies in creating a transitory world that does not simply become an illustration of an event. It is this idea that I found crystallized in the dilemma of a young soul-searching artist in the following passage from Herman Hesse’s “Narcissus and Goldmund:”

“Goldmund knew a spot along the river where the water was not deep; it’s bed was covered with shards and all kinds of rubbish that fisherman had thrown there. . .From this spot, one could look through the streaming, crystal-threaded water and see the dark, vague bottom, see a vague golden glitter here and there, an enticing sparkle, bits of a broken plate perhaps or a worn out sickle . . . or it might be a mud fish . . .turning around down there, a ray of light catching for an instant the bright fins of its scales and belly - one could never make out what precisely was there, but there were always enchantingly beautiful, enticing brief vague glints of drowned golden treasure in the wet black ground.

All true mysteries, it seemed to him, were just like this mysterious water; all true images of the soul were like this: they had no precise contour or shape: they only could be guessed at, a beautiful distant possibility that was veiled in many meanings. Just as something inexpressibly golden or silvery blinked for a quivering instant in the twilight of the green river depths, an illusion that contained, nevertheless, the most blissful promise . . . In the same way the lantern hung under a cart at night painting giant spinning shadows of wheel spokes on walls, could for a moment create a shadow play that seemed as the work of Homer. And one’s nightly dream were woven of the same unreal, magic stuff, a nothing that contained all the images in the world, an ocean in whose crystal the forms of all human beings, animals, and demons lived as ever ready possibilities.

He was absorbed in the game. With lost eyes he stared into the drifting river, saw shapeless shimmerings at the bottom, king’s crowns and women’s bare shoulders. . .
How could these things be so beautiful, this golden glow underneath the water, these shadows and insinuations, all these unreal fairylike apparitions- so inexpressibly beautiful and delightful, when they were the exact opposite of the beauty an artist might create? The beauty of those indistinguishable objects was without form and consisted of nothing but mystery. This was the very opposite of the form and absolute precision of works of art. Nothing was as mercilessly clear and definite as the line of a drawn mouth or a head carved in wood; nothing was indefinite there, nothing deceptive, nothing vague.

. . .He could not understand how that which was so definite and formal could affect the soul in the same manner as that which was intangible and formless. One thing, however, did become clear to him- why so many perfect works of art did not please him at all, why they were almost hateful and boring to him, in spite of a certain undeniable beauty . . . They were deeply disappointing because they aroused the desire for the highest and did not fulfill it. They lacked the most essential thing- mystery. That was what dreams and truly great works of art had in common: mystery.”


-Jason Travers

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Artist's Statement with forward by Andrew Forge

Artist's Statement from Recent Paintings, 2004