initial color. From that color I can determine the next color by whether its influence needs to pull or push the painting in a specific direction. Once I’ve established a mood, I can continue to react. The shapes, textures and colors are reduced to a fundamental level almost like the games children play with blocks, which allows the work to have an immediate impact on the viewer.” Through this profoundly immediate and at times aggressive process, the paintings are a collision of all scapes, where passions strive to exist, where everything is affected by light and gravity. His quest to find that balance by moving color is the gift that puts Rossen’s work into the conversation of the hierarchy in the cultural continuum of art history. “The thing about my painting today is at the end I have no choices. The paintings decide, so I work to give them life. I don’t look at my process as something I want to master. I just want to get better at responding to it.” Rossen realized, “pretty late” that he was destined to be an artist. “I always drew and did a little painting, but I came form a mostly academic household where art wasn’t too encouraged. I never really considered myself an artist until I spent some time with James Wrinkle, a contemporary of Ron Davis (an abstract illusionist artist) who introduced me to Be-bop Jazz. I did some painting in his studio and with his encouragement, in my late teens, I applied to the San Francisco Art Institute. He had a photographer shoot the paintings I was creating and once I was accepted, I realized ‘I’m an artist.’” That was in 1992-93 during a very musical period in Rossen’s life. The music, he realized, was taking over and he moved to Copenhagen, performed and recorded there and didn’t paint for a while. “I came back and forth to the US quite a bit playing mostly progressive electronic music — jazz influences with East Indian leanings.” All the while he was casually painting, not putting together a substantial body of work, just finding “cohesion” in his approach until he viewed a film on Gerhardt Richter, an important artist in the 20th and 21st centuries whose work spans nearly five decades. As he noted Richter was using many of the same techniques, Rossen was inspired and began to seriously focus on his own technique and approach. “It started really coming together about a year ago, when I started these pieces for the San Diego Contemporary Show. “I don’t necessarily have a specific narrative behind the work other than I am definitely listening to jazz improvisational music and approaching it with an essence of organization of all these different shapes and lines, without any sort of grid-like plan.
Moving On A Horizon, oil and acrylic on board, 72” x 48”
“I don’t think a painting can be too bold. I want people to feel energy and movement” Calmness is what I strive for out of chaos or too much emotion. “ When I feel they have all come together — the energy the shapes, the colors — even if they are fighting each other in certain areas the overall is what they are supposed to be and that is the organization of life. “I don’t think a painting can be too bold, I want people to feel so much energy and movement that they are impacted, that they
can go into one of my paintings and pull out a chunk to actually feel the work.” Rossen’s abstractions display a dynamic energy, the expression of which he compares to creating music. “When the first abstract music was made, there was a release of energy, and people expressed something about sounds in terms of some instrument that was not verbal,” wrote the noted artist and critic Fairfield Porter and Rossen emphatically subscribes to that theory. Fine Art Magazine • December 2013 • 13
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