David J. Armacost

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What is my work about?

I tend to think about both making and exhibiting paintings in terms of performance and narrative. Though I am heavily engaged with crafting unique objects, my art is ultimately concerned with conjuring new personal and social experiences, whether they be in the studio or onsite. A rigorous and somewhat solitary studio practice is always complimented by site-specific projects, events and collaborative initiatives that allow me to explore different contexts and relationships. I am constantly moving between several seemingly independent creative practices which continuously inform each other and often overlap with the work of my peers.

Artist Statement

I paint modestly scaled canvases featuring a limited vocabulary of recognizable symbols because I want to facilitate a personal link between the viewer and the work. I like that people are consistently bringing new references to my imagery, and that is why the hand, eye, curtain and floor have persevered as motifs in my work. These paintings show the magician’s curtain, the performer’s stage, and the classical drape study; they are the instagrammed manicure, the hand of god, a stand in for the artist, and a witch casting a spell. By using powerful universal imagery in combination with a highly streamlined and ritualized painting process, I’m trying to craft an evocative object that is charged with information. I use painting as a vessel for my personal biography but also as a mirror to reflect back any narratives the viewer projects onto the work. The first half of the portfolio are examples of this studio based painting practice.   Since my work is modular, and often displayed in groups, I have included several images of pairs or trios. Showing the paintings in this way touches on the obsessive, repetitious nature of process and further expands the web of narrative that I hope the viewer will get caught up in.

It is important for me to constantly expand on a studio practice that can feel solitary or small with projects that are more engaged with context and community. Images 13-14 show large immersive paintings which were made to influence specific places and situations for a very short duration of time. The desire to search out performative/experiential potentials in painting comes from my longstanding attraction to theatrical and scenic painting for stage. I’m very interested in the exhibition as a setting for both social interaction and intimate personal experience. Images 14-20 show a series of projects which were temporary, authorless environments collected under the name Year of Flowers. The five Year of Flowers installations utilized a small store-front space in downtown Baltimore and took place over a period of ten months. Each installment was performative in the sense that the environment within was activated by people occupying the space for a very short period of time, and after the event the work was discarded or repurposed. Full documentation of the Year of Flowers projects can be found at www.franklinstreet.info

I get the most satisfaction out of my creative work when I am able to gather a group of artists around it- organizing art events has become an integral part of my practice. Over the past three years I have been involved with programming several artists exhibition spaces, with the goal of providing a platform for collaborative projects. Organizing DIY space has proved invaluable to nurturing creative relationships within the community and facilitating a constant exchange of new ideas. Please see www.eveninghoursny.com and www.sophiajacob.com for a full archive of curatorial initiatives in New York and Baltimore.