My art has many layers: of image and object, of natural and artificial, of temporal and permanent, of visible and hidden, of priceless and valueless -- and attempts to reconcile such seemingly intractable opposites, questioning dominant assumptions in the process.
Painting is often like a rowboat: "stroke, stroke, stroke". A lot of modern art is like a motorboat: automated. Much of my art is like a sailboat: It works with Nature.
My art considers processes and both incorporates and extends them. In so doing, it questions what constitutes "nature". That is, "artificial" objects that have a nature-like process iteratively applied to them in a sense become "natural" over time. "Natural" objects that are swallowed by the "artificial" aren't really still "natural". Human beings are central to both processes.
"Be that empty." We don't see the world till we see the negative, till the veil is removed. "Don't just admire the vase, drink the water." Don't just paint a canvas with the likeness of a rose, paint the rose itself. Paint it again. And again. Then, cut it open, like a ripened fruit and look inside. Like an animal devours a carcass. Don't just paint a likeness of the snow, paint the snow -- and the rain and samaras. They all fall like like manna from heaven. Really look at what we are provided. Don't just draw the petal, bruise it thoughtfully (not underfoot) that you might let it -- and us -- speak as we never have. Or perhaps it's that we've forgotten.
My art is of this world, yet has an ethereal quality. Made from things, but wholey antimaterialistic. It's largely based on Unthings. The inside negative space of an object itself regarded as valueless. The inside negative space of a dandelion puff. Of a dust bunny. Leaves. Rain. These things are often ignored or regarded as an annoyance or worse when they are actually wonders.
A flower fades, as does our memory of it. If we weep, is that for the flowers -- which will return next year -- or for ourselves, for we may not? Or, will some flowers not reappear next year because we humans don't know how to value what we should?
Part of the process for my art is being in touch with a primordial part of me that we push away -- gathering flora and fauna to include in my work.
Our society is at war with Nature. "Nature cannot own me, nor can heaven." But we come from both. We must be at peace with each. We can mediate. We can resolve. We can listen to our hearts and use our minds to make truth and beauty one.
We are tool makers, but tools themselves become swallowed by natural processes and become art.
I use a toothbrush to mix paint, but eventually, I look at that toothbrush and it becomes art -- I slice it open.
The seemingly "mundane" objects used in the art are matched by the other tools I use. Works like "The Purposed of the Petroleum Age" are processed using a home deli slicer.
There's a theme of the role of memory; an influence of photography, capturing a moment in time. Much of the work is inspired by shadows and reflections and imprints -- these are especially important to me because they make much of our modern cityscapes minimally bearable, still grounded in nature.
Some works make allusions to anthropology or geology, seeming to extend back in time -- other works, or sometimes the same works, also show the most fleeting. Both these extremes are seen in how I work with snow. Some snow works look like ancient canyons made of the hardest stone. Some preserve the most ephemeral and delicate of objects -- a snowflake.
There's a theme of resolving issues of image and object. Allowing a thing to speak for itself. That the object we have thoughtlessly ignored is finally allowed to make its mark. That that emptiness that connects all objects can itself be layered and we can see it connect them. The air itself can speak and breath. It implores that we should be that empty that connects -- to understand the connections between what we identify as isolated "objects" and "events".
Part of the "process" of my art is to strive to achieve what nature achieves: a closed system. The "waste" from one part of the system is the "input" for another. I place an object upon a canvas and spray paint it, building up layers of paint on it. And each layer leaves the imprint of the object on the surface. It's a history of one work -- and the creation of another.
For some works there's an incredible spontaneity -- "Geologic Glacial" and "Landslide" -- while being made, initially looked very similar. But "Landslide" slid "accidentally" and became what it is. The tension in doing my work of trying to control, like someone on that sailboat, and letting that control go, allowing nature and spontaneity take hold and working with them. Each piece at some level is a letting "a way unfold".
I draw freely from influences from a wide variety of artists and schools of art, from abstract expressionism to dada; from (post)minimalism to surrealism; from process art to land art; from pointillism to cubism. At times I attempt to reconcile ostensibly competing "schools".
My art questions the egoism of both the human race and the modern concept of the "artist" in relation to the world.
We desperately need a re-alignment around our relationship with nature -- and then come to a better understanding of our true identities and our own Nature.
-- Usamah Husayni, December 2017