78″ x 66″, acrylic on canvas, from a series of airbrushed paintings inspired by blackboards
While all the works in the blackboard series allude to processes of memory and mentation, He had nothing upstairs is more direct in its choice of subject matter. The work incorporates old illustrations of the brain or the mind–from phrenology, Descartes, medieval medical texts and children’s artwork. These images, which mostly depict mind as a structured container, are superimposed on a cross section of a furnished house along with juxtaposing images and diagrams of birds in flight, a freely floating bed or chair, a cage. Chalked sentences cross reference mental states and processes with houses or rooms or space, including: He had nothing upstairs; he was rocked to his foundations; room to think, etc.
The mind has often been likened to a cage or container, while contrarily, it is also seen as being unfettered in its generative powers. Plato’s famous metaphor for mind as an aviary, captured both the structured and the freely associative aspect of mind and thought.