A couple of years ago, God now more than 5, fuck I’m getting old, I participated in a show with my friend Colin Matthes, a great artist! The show was called “Off the Barbarous Coast”. The show was really an adventure in DIY curating, a real test for our logistical skills, or at least mine. Anyway the show was a success and we always talked about how we should do a repeat. Well it was shortly after that show that I got the idea to produce work about the African-American pilot John C. Robinson. Without getting too involved in his back story let me just say he’s a hero and a little known figure in black history. He flew for the Ethiopian airforce during that country’s war with Italy during the 1930’s, and was by all accounts I’ve read a courageous and brave solider for the defence of that ancient country.
I wanted to do some art that conflated his heroics with the drone aircraft program of todays US Airforce. The pilots of these planes drop bombs on unsuspecting targets all around the world it seems, as if dying from an advanced manned plane wasn’t bad enough. Anyway I prefer the bravery demonstrated by figures like Robinson, who had to face an enemy, and who had to overcome poverty and racism in order to learn how to flying the first place. Now I never served in the military and believe that a measure of respect is owed to all servicemen, but I do have a problem with the means of our warfare today and the collateral costs of our conflicts around the globe.
So I started making this work last November. I call the series Pilot (Or How Do You Stop A Flying Dreadnought). I’ve now working on the third of an expected 8 large paintings for the series. There will also be 8 large preparatory drawings and a small gesture painting series to go with the larger works. My dream is to have a solo show where all the work can be exhibited together. Here are some studio shots of this third work. Once its finished I will post a slide show of the making of the piece at my artist website.