Don Christensen

New York, New York, USA

The composition, color, and drawing that are integral to my artworks are usually a representation of something I’ve seen in our world or in my dreams. It could be something quite simple, like the color of a pedestrian’s coat superimposed on the large gaudy commercial graphics on the side of a truck as it turns into the late afternoon light. Or it could be the color scheme of a Matisse painting or the packaging of some candy. Some of my work may appear modernist at first glance, and some uses prosaic and often “found” materials, which betrays the formalness of the geometry found in the abstract paintings.

My ideas of visual design are sometimes colored by my experiences as a musician and drummer. The concept of “cool” refers to an ancient African and perhaps a human mode of being. Master drummers would criticize younger, less experienced musicians for playing too hot or from the “heart.” To be “cool” one must develop their skills as a player so they can go beyond simple heated self-expression, yet be detached enough to bring objective appraisal to their art. To me this concept of “cool” reflects my ongoing involvement with expressionism and formalism.

Nothing is sacred and nothing is too prosaic. Whether using found materials or painting directly onto canvas, I am firmly in the tradition of pictorial art. The rectangle on the wall is an ancient traditional device, and it still works. It is television, movies, photographs and painting. I am in this tradition.

All being said, what is really going on is this—I like to make things and I like to make music. I think I have some talent at both, and I have been fortunate and resourceful enough to create the time and resources to be able to do it.

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