COVID TEST A (left) , COVID TEST C (right), 2020.
India ink, acrylic, and pigment print on linen.
60 x 36 inches each. Photo by Aya.

The two pieces pictured above are the first two works of a set of four recently completed paintings. The series is based on photos I captured during our family’s experience at the drive-through COVID-19 testing station at Stony Brook University on Long Island. We were the third car in line at the testing station on March 19th, the first day that drive thru testing became available in our area and the experience was quite surreal. Suffolk County in New York has proven thus far to be one of the areas hit hardest by COVID-19 within the United States.

I initially was hesitant to create these works based on the subject matter; however, I decided that instead of using my studio as an attempt to escape the pandemic, I would to use it as a way to address it. The creative process behind these works has been providing some level of catharsis within this very surreal situation. More will be revealed, as they say, and this too, shall pass.

My wife and I were symptomatic, with fevers and other symptoms for several weeks, but the test results eventually came back negative, which was perplexing. I had open heart surgery last summer, so I am particularly concerned with limiting my exposure to the virus.

My style is informed by the New York School Abstract Expressionists, as evidenced in the gestural ink-wash ground, which embraces the power of the accident and the subconscious mark.

Scroll down for some process images and video, as well as a set of small studies created to explore compositional ideas and to iron out process-related issues.

The creative process behind these works takes a page, in part, from Pop-era artists such as Rauschenberg and Warhol who recontextualized commercial means of production within their paintings.  In the 1960’s, the process-du-jour was photo-silkscreen. The 21st century equivalent is large-format digital  printing, which has been applied directly to the painted surfaces in this body of work.