David McBride

In my paintings, I use transparent oil glazes and photographic imagery as a way to engage a traditional oil painting technique with a contemporary medium. I limit the colors I use to four: yellow, red, blue and black, and apply them in a sequence that approximates, in paint, the CMYK color wheel of modern mass printing techniques. For a very long time, I used stencils to articulate the imagery in my work. I don’t use stencils anymore, but the subject matter of my work is still largely articulated by the absence of paint on the surface. Objects appear as white silhouettes with colors flickering at their edges, surrounded by expanses of dark, built-up oil glazes.
This subject matter appears disparate, which is deliberate, but there are two common themes that persist between the majority of my paintings. The first is that the motifs I work with represent objects and events which are significant, subjectively, but which are in large part useless or without function. From fireworks to labyrinths to pinned bugs to pinwheels, there seem to be a lot of things that are cared about independent of any use-value they have.
The second thing to common to the subject matter I choose is that my paintings are almost all paintings of photographs (of “useless” objects or events). This is a way to continue attempting to destabilize the demarcation between painting and photography that using oil glazes and CMYK colors begins to do. My interest here is to identify useless but valuable things as iterations of contemporary myth. I’m interested in those things that appear frivolous but continue to resonate. And into that arithmetic, I’d add painting, photography, and the other art mediums, which in a certain light can be understood as (ideological) objects of the avant-garde (and thus, as myths).
The activities of making, teaching, and appreciating art have a tough row to hoe when it comes to justifying themselves as useful or productive. But they persist, all of them, because they add value to being alive. Thankfully, we haven’t gotten to the point that value is only measured by usefulness or productivity.