Ray Caesar Interview In the Light

Ray Caesar recently exhibited 30 digital paintings, “Dangerous Inclination,” at the Corey Helford Gallery. Ray was in good spirits and the crowd immediately engaged with a select grouping of one of a kind pieces and oversized pieces. (Above, Words of Wisdom, 24x40" 2012).

Reflecting on the exhibition on the drive from Los Angeles to San Diego, I thought to present two questions that quickly came to mind. Generously, Ray responded: (Above, Coming Undone studies 2008).

mM : I love the light sources in your work. The glow of your work has an effervescent quality that really pulls you in. Do you have memories of light. Places you have been or have a favorite time of day that inspires the light that is featured in your pieces? (Above, Mantis Grill, Daybreak, 2008).

RAY : The light is in many ways is a main character of my work ...if not THE main character. Whether its a table lamp or a chandelier or a window or even just a bare bulb. I often begin the process of a piece with the light source and this is consistent in working in Maya also ...I need a light source in my virtual working environment to illuminate the objects in the scene.

When the piece develops so does the light source and its effect on the scene and in this way there is a constant process of working with light both as a practical element but also as a spiritual one as for me the light is also a metaphor for the revelation of the unconscious mind and the self realization of aspects of my own personality and the personality of all of us as a species. I have several "disorders" and therapy along with art and patience and a process of self realization is like turning on a light in a room or sitting in a garden at night and watching the sunrise and seeing that space as a constantly changing space. (Above, Siren, 48x48" 2012).

The night garden has a certain light and certain creatures populate it at night and there is a cast of shadow and color and a coolness of temperature and lack of activity by humans . . . the smells are different as are the sounds and the instincts. The sun rises and all those elements change and in some ways the garden under sunlight at noon is almost a different space—a different aspect of another completely dimension. Light and its absence seemingly moves us thru these different dimensions and I believe its the same with the unconscious and conscious mind. As a child I used to sit in a very small dark room and it was in that space that I heard particular voices and what I like to describe as "friends"...I have a particular memory of these voices being very tiny moving points of light. In a simple answer to your question I have come to love all times of day and all states of mind as they all have a reason and they all have an emotion. I am often happy sitting on my terrace when its cold and foggy and raining...I wrap myself up in a blanket and sip a cup of tea and watch the fog and listen to the rain and the light is just fantastic. (Above, La Chasse, 48x48" 2012).

mM : There is mention of pieces without the presentation of figures while presenting the influence of humans. In your piece Death of an Unfaithful Still Life (great title, by the way), the concept of human interaction and the possible narrative seem to build up the tension in presentation. What is your inspiration that moves your worlds away from the protagonist? (Above, Consort and Santa Maria, 2006).

RAY : I have drawn these non-figurative pieces for many years and quite some time ago used to paint them quite often. Light as a main character . . . then so are the objects and furniture and rooms within my work. Cabinets and chests of drawers and desks and night tables are a place where secrets are often hidden and a place we keep those things we don’t want others looking at.

They are places we tend to organize our daily life and the place we quickly put things when we don’t have another space. They are containers and sarcophagus and coffins and in a way, wombs of old memories. I think we all have cabinets in our subconcious. Go through any room in your house and go thru a drawer and there. I guarantee you have put things that you have forgotten about ...when you clean those cabinets you find little treasures and memories both good and bad. These are also the places some keep their love, their sins, the things they want to keep and the things they want to forget. (Above, Morning Glory Limited Edition Book and Morning Glory Side View 1/1, 2007).

As a child I spent a lot of time alone ... I touched old furniture and it seemed to me the furniture spoke back . . . back in England when I was 7 or 8 we had a huge black oak bureau that was attached to the wall . . . I suspect it was 60 or 70 years old and was probably built in the 1880s as we found some very old newspapers behind it when it was ripped from the wall many years later. This big old Bureau was the king of the room and was massive...it had seen more years pass than anyone or any other thing other than the house itself and yet I think the wood was older. I can swear to you on my life that this thing spoke . . . and it was wise and patient and kind and it was strong and it had come from a very old tree that was rooted to the earth. It was fashioned into a massive cabinet that had cupboards and drawers and it had contained all the things people treasured for an eternity. It was in one of the cupboards of this cabinet that was one of my places and I feel that this big old cupboard protected me. (Above, Paternal Secrets 2004 and Oh Sweet Vanity 2004).

In “Death of an Unfaithful still life,” (Above), I was thinking about how some pieces of furniture can be alive and kind and caring and how some people can be less than furniture and cold and uncaring. I came from a world where words were lost on people like words are lost on talking or begging an inanimate thing. In such a place your friends become the things that are kinder to you ...the things that protect you and sometimes those are things in the rooms you live in . . . the quiet patient things.

Many thanks to Ray Caesar and we look forward to your next exhibition. More soon and enjoy. (Ray Caesar Review — Ray Caesar Blog — Gentle Kind of Cruelty Interview — Huffington Post Interview — Order Ray Caesar Book).

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