What is the difference between solitude and isolation? Are the recollections that weave the story of our lives based in truth, or are they simply fragmented distortions that we try to compile out of our past perceptions? Memories fade, feelings change and reality is by definition very subjective. Time plays a large factor in this equation and has the effect of making it all so much harder to understand. These age-old questions have become more relevant than ever in this modern era. Time seems to be speeding up and information is being shared faster than ever. If painting is about anything for me, it is about introspection and discovery.
Life requires us all to at some point, reflect on these topics. As we embark into the twenties it appears that the social separation and fear brought about by world events, technological advancements, and addiction is leading us into a dark and unnatural place. Loneliness may be a side effect of solitude, but solitude is often healthy. In an effort to find a better way forward, we must first try to understand ourselves. Intentionally or not, these thoughts and questions are elicited when looking at my oil paintings in 2022.
These narratives aim to create a psychological puzzle that presents the viewer with different possibilities and still allows room to breathe. It is an attempt to use the power of minimal suggestion to bring forth a memory, a sense of anticipation, or maybe a new imagined thought in the mind of the viewer. I hope to pull something out of someone else's mind and allow them to decide what the painting means. Based in reality, they are neither an attempt at realism or surrealism. It is not my commentary on modern life or history in any direct way. These paintings are snapshots into the quiet moments in between the hallmarks of time. Moments of transcendence, distorted memory, or for some, storytelling. The composition is meant to be clean, balanced and organized as I try to set the stage for an ambiguous, contemporary tableau.
My process revolves around intuition and energy. The role of photography is important as a means to create mixed media art. The look of the photograph is integral to the aesthetic and is not something I try to run away from. Cinema and illustration has always influenced my desire to make images. If an idea comes I try to first capture it in the lens. After that, I work through a deliberate editing and printmaking process that informs whether or not the image will make way to an oil painting. The painting process gives birth to the image for me. Painting is meditative at times and very intense and dramatic at others. It is very different from the capturing of light. It is an additive process of creating a skin of paint and bringing a thought into being through the brush. This is the most compelling format for the work and it is what brings me closer to moments of discovery. The full expression of the idea cannot be shared without making the painting, however deeply rooted in photography it may be.
Cody Willins was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He received a BFA in painting from New Mexico State University in 2006. Cody currently works out of his studio in Central Texas.