Stephen Paul Connor

  • Fusion #1, 2023 36” x 30” Oils on panel

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Catalog Essay by Phoebe Hoban

Stephen Paul Connor teaches game design at a community college in Austin, Texas, instructing his classes in the creation of art for computer games. Connor’s practice in his studio is much more primal. He begins his process by writing down words that express strong feelings; suffering, pain, duality, and conflict. The words serve as verbal sketches that spark the start of a painting. He then follows his intuition, not sure where it will go. His painting technique can be almost violent, “breaking” the image by eradicating it and then overpainting its vestiges, and “hacking it together again until it starts to have a life of its own.” His goal, he says, is “to connect. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s everything. To give people a little lift or charge in their consciousness.”

Connor’s powerfully packed compositions feature intense shapes and colors and convey a tense, coiled energy. Fusion 1 (2023) is composed of overlapping tectonic-plate- or fin-like forms, each internally jammed with jagged pieces in varying sizes and hues, outlined in thick black. Every busy section of the teeming canvas is complex, yet its contained chaos remains coherent. The composition of Torrent, (2023,) in contrast, is pared down and basic, a primer in Connor’s visual vocabulary. Unlike Fusion #1, it feels more contemplative than confrontational. In Fusion #3, (2023). Connor works in an entirely different format. It shares with Connor’s other work an almost overwhelming level of visual detail, and its circular composition,  expanding outward with centrifugal force, evokes a vortex–or a galactic big bang.

 – Phoebe Hoban

Artist Statement

Abstract art is impersonal, expressed in movements such as a burst, swipe, or something falling. This is my subject; but it is more than a subject, it is both the action of generating the art, as well as the outcome.

Ideas and sensations initiate action during the painting event; the actions taken during the processes of creating evoke further expression.

Once a foundational concept is established, making art happens fairly quickly. The entire process is considered a success when the art evokes states in the viewer somewhat similar to those experienced by the artist.

There are two modalities in creating my art: one is looking inward, and the other, outward. They both seem endless in potential. When the two meet at the center the art suggests the infinite.

It helps the appreciation experience if the viewer can free themselves from seeing representational forms in the work, and instead, see the art directly, without interpretation.

My art mirrors the experience of the human psyche. It is made by moving with freedom, and this is why we can relate to it. It reflects inner states, without representation; a statement of what is, in a moment.

It also helps the understanding of my art to reflect on our bi-lateral symmetry, our conditional duality (head above and body below) subject to gravity, and our proprioception (the internal sense of our body in space). This is my inner subject, while the flowing paint or manipulated digital media reflect that reality in real-time.

I am not attempting to invent anything new. Art for me is timeless; or if anything, receding back in time rather than forward.

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