Artist: Charlie Goodwin
OIL ON PANEL, 12" x 14"
Why does the circle fascinate me? It is the most modest form, but asserts itself
unconditionally; it is a precise, but an inexhaustible variable; it is simultaneously
stable and unstable; simultaneously loud and soft; and a single tension that
carries countless tensions within it. The circle is the synthesis of the greatest
oppositions. It combines the concentric and the eccentric in a single form, and in
equilibrium. Of the three primary forms [circle, square, triangle], it points the most
clearly to the fourth dimension."
Circles do fascinate. Hinting of much and telling little, they insist they are simply
paint. They are almost letters, possibly numbers, and perhaps signs, and just
when their meaning might become clear, they become silent. They suggest and
insinuate, but in the end they withhold their secret.
By the end of the New England summer, many bushes and small trees are
overrun by a crown of the vigorous vines and seed pods of wild cucumber vine. I
first noticed the beautiful star shaped leaves and only later the seed pods. After
the retreat of the succeeding winter, only a few sinewy vines and dry pod shells
remain intact. The pods have desiccated to a paper thin husk wrapped about an
elegant fibrous skeleton which in it's turn forms the protective home of a pair of
For a long time I kept a tangled mass of dry vines and pods in a box in my studio
for possible future use as subject matter. And when I began to paint from that
withered tangle of vines and pods, the seed pods alone became the essence of
the work. Round pod-like forms took over, degenerating into simple
quasi-circular outlines, and then multiplying crazily into hundreds and thousands
of circle outlines, rushing and piling one upon another.
Literal reference fell away. The paintings no longer were "about" pods. The work
evolved into an exploration of things that happen with paint and large numbers of
nominally simple marks. The circle marks have become rough, quasi-circular
piles and assemblages animated by a counterpoint of color and texture in which
every millimeter is painted, overpainted, dripped, dragged, wiped, scumbled,
These paintings are an exploration of paint and its generous vocabulary of color,
complexity, surface, physicality, texture and mass. They invoke scale and
sculptural depth. Color, varying surface relief and tonal contrast weave
intertwined paths for the eye to travel the surface.
In this five year series of paintings, I have made hundreds of thousands of circle
shapes, and by now, much surprise would seem unlikely, yet the project continues
to unveil the new and unexpected. The "circles project" began with pods and
organic form, and has matured into an ongoing investigation of surface, intricacy,
perception, and the physicality of paint.