Solaris is one of a series of ‘palette paintings’. In this case, the palette was one that I had actually used for earlier paintings.

I have a particular routine for setting up the colors on the palette and every other day, I add fresh paint. Greens over greens, whites over whites, reds over reds…

After using this particular palette for about 8 months the build up of paint caused the mixing surface in the center to become smaller and smaller. Eventually, I began to take notice of the palette for its own sake. It had become a kind of found object, almost fossilized and affected by time, endowed with a kind of purposeful randomness.

Looking intensely at this object, I began imagining, and then painting, an image of my face, peering out of the small void in the center of the swirls of built up color. As I painted, the palette began to revolve and rotate. The paint started to appear as if it had its own force surging through it. The surface began to look like a topographical map. It brought forth thoughts of oceans, landforms and continents. I found myself adding botanical forms as they appeared to me.

When I completed the work, I realized that the image made me recall a powerful scene in Andrei Tarkovsky’s great film, Solaris. In this scene, after being sent to a space station, a Russian astronaut is upended when he discovers the inhabitants in a state of dissolution and disarray. Little by little, he realizes that the planet they are exploring has mysterious powers. The oceans in this newly discovered world boil and move as if in a cauldron. By some magical alchemy, the act of looking into this turbulent sea brings forth a strongly felt and sometimes conflicted memory, full of melancholy.