This painting was created in response to the human pain and suffering throughout Syria. It is not my intention to take sides in the conflict. I wouldn’t even begin to suggest that things are that simple. Sometime in 2011, I started following what was happening with the Syrian uprising. That winter, news and photos were being smuggled out of the country from civilians and rebels to show what was happening on a street-level. Individuals of all ages, rebels and otherwise, are caught in situation of intense misery and conflict.
With Ways to Dissolve, I continued my exploration of the red pigments. After painting the atmospheric Turning Red, I wanted to use the same red pigments in a more solid structured way. I also wanted to get into it with gutsy brush-strokes as opposed to the smooth wispy paint in Turning Red. At the time, I was looking a lot at Willem de Kooning’s Clam Diggers and Jasper Johns’s Target and Numbers and I can see where their influence fed into this painting.
I started with a photo of Goldie Hawn reading the newspaper, with her feet propped up on the breakfast table. I cut out her foot and pasted it to a small canvas upright like the statues on Easter Island. The pointing hand of St John the Baptist in Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece was then added to the right side of the image. I balanced this out with a small square of text to the upper right corner, but later removed that in favor of the open space. The image was worked out on the smaller surface and then recreated on this larger canvas.