Having just picked up my passport for an upcoming trip to Europe, long lines, endless paperwork, I reached Paul on his cel phone and was rushing to get on a freeway to wind my way up to Pasadena from Hollywood. I hadn’t seen Paul for a couple of years and was not sure what to expect, he seemed as laid-back as always, always willing to be a part of something, “a breezer” someone from his gallery said. I suppose you could say I didn’t have to think too long choosing somebody for this piece,I have known Paul now for about five years, well, I guess its more like I was a student of his for three, and now haven’t seen him for two. But, nonetheless, he stuck out among my teachers at UCLA, this mainly because of his level of commitment to his work, in his life, the way his intellect informs and is informed by his work, the rich, complex, complicated aesthetic of his work, the way the intuitive mixes with the self-consciously constructed, and perhaps above all, a commitment to a type of work that was/is/can be extremely challenging forviewers, modern and otherwise. Paul’s work gets down and dirty, combines the societally taboo with the sort of fucked-up media timing that kicks us where it really hurts, where our brains, imaginations, perceptions have been trained to receive media in a certain way, with a certain timing, Paul twists this, in videos like Bossy Burger (1991), Heidi (1992), Painter (1995), others, actions go on for too long, Blam! a psychological wall is slammed into, longer still, viewer fatigue sets in, longer still, attention is regained but the action perceived know seems alien, longer still, viewers are stretched to the limit of their attention, and then Blam! another wall is broken down and we are again somewhere new but the action has not changed, only the carrier of the action, normally metered out by correct timing, has changed, been extended, fucked with, fucks with our brains, invades our subconscious with something akin to the mental dishevelment one experiences when encountering physical violence in person, in actuality, on video, television, cinema, turned back onto itself, into itself, sending shockwaves through our bodies, our psyches as Paul’s constructed, and not, persona turns itself inside out, overpowers the timing of media and is in turn overpowered by it, twisting and echoed in a hall of mirrors that is structured by, layered with, all which exists at the juncture of acceptable behavior and psychosis, constructed character and personal madness, all exposing certain “truths” about ourselves, our animal instincts, the relationship of intellect to ritual, of aesthetics to schizophrenia, of performance and action and perhaps art to a certain kind of autism . . .
As I descend on his house, the house he built, it looking quite a bit like his work, but done so early, must have been the mid seventies, the late seventies, oh, I can’t remember, I try not to feel like some kind of vulture, which must be so common now that Paul’s career is more established, his retrospective about to open in Los Angeles and later on in New York, but I know what I am after, it is to show you what I see what I experience when I am around Paul, the sort of intellectual intoxication that I can only get from an artist, one not afraid to not know exactly what they are doing, one not afraid to commit a life to the pursuit of something which can not be squared up using any sort or combination of societal contexts, to do something which is one’s own and be passionate about it, to have the kind of effect on a young artist which can only be described as life-changing, perhaps in some way matching the meaning of “mentor” even if one does not subscribe to such conventional ideas of education, of maturation, of accomplishment, perhaps previously and without knowing, eager to find some example of the mixture in ones work of the personal, the intuitive, with the intellectual, the constructed, in certain terms a type of indeterminately specific societal critique which itself is kept aloft, contained by, supported by the armature of the personal subconscious, itself wavering between a construction and what must somewhere at some point be someone red-lining his own mental ability/stability, something akin to flying, to euphoria, to drunkenness, to hallucination revelatory and otherwise, and having found this previously mentioned mix in someone you have met, who’s work you have admired, has floored you since the first time you have laid eyes on it, someone who once met in person does not detract from the immensity of their work but adds to it, someone who has sustained a certain, I suppose I should say large, amount of experimentation in their work over a very
long period of time, someone who sets the example of a career that is not a “career” but something else, something more meaningful for them, for us, perhaps you would wish to give something back, perhaps it is your own work which does this, perhaps just letting them know is something . . .