Last week, someone anonymous left a comment on the old BXT blog about some of my paintings. It said, “AWESOME!” Thanks! It was great to see. I wondered how much that person would really care to know about the work and my own thinking about it. How much is required to make somebody think one of my paintings is awesome? All caps.

Keith Vaughn, Re-Enter Your Password, oil and acrylic on canvas, 28 x 22” 2014

The paintings are based on different types of opposition: oil paint and acrylic, color and the lack of it, representation and abstraction.

Keith Vaughn, Right Option, oil and acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11” 2014

It’s taken for granted that in certain types of commercial art representation will be linked with abstraction. In such a relationship, the abstract element is the layout. Certain designers specialize in layouts. The idea is that the representation and the abstraction (layout) will prop each other up to attract attention and convey a message quickly, the message being a sales pitch. So, in conventional terms, design is a commercial art. On the fine art side of the line, conveying a message quickly is usually not a priority. Attracting attention is still important.

Keith Vaughn, A Chance to Win, oil and acrylic on canvas, 42 x 48” 2014

I approach the “layout” as a flexible idea of how abstraction can interact with representation. The work points to a similarity between the strategies of hard-edged abstract painting and basic graphic design concepts. Such design conventions as borders, insets, drop shadows, and expectations as to where the title appears on a book cover, are subverted in my work to formal, abstract ends.

Frank Stella, Black Adder (V Series), 1968

Frank Stella, Black Adder (V Series), 1968

I don’t know the difference, if there is one, between desktop wallpaper and a screen saver, but there are tons of them available to download. I like the term “wallpaper” because it’s ironic— paper having nothing to do with a stock image that ends up on your desktop. My favorite wallpapers are the Romantic, hyperreal tropical beach ones. The environment depicted is so counter to the high-tech work space that its image can be understood to represent a set of values antithetical to those of the work space, even if that space is the computer itself.

Stock photo

Stock photo. If Stanley Kubrick had made a beach party movie.

Also, I’m biased in the direction of anything tropical if the option exists. It’s just a style I like. I’m a big fan of the band Pablo Cruise. To like Pablo Cruise at all is to be a big fan, but I’m a pretty big fan.

Worlds Away (1978) It's a band, not a guy

Worlds Away (1978). It’s a band, not a guy.

Stock photos, of the kind that become desktop wallpaper, are intended to be altered and duplicated endlessly. On the way from the beach to wherever the simulacra of it ends up, the concept of an original isn’t a factor. The images are texts created to have no true context, no original structure. The viewer is alone on the beach, Camus’ stranger in the 21st century.

Keith Vaughn, Plan Your Trip, oil and acrylic on canvas, 30” x 40” 2013

See more Keith Vaughn paintings HERE