Artists    Statement    Projects


PHARMAKA (farm a' ka) - (plural - Greek)
remedy and poison. In ancient Greek it also means to paint or a painter's colors. In our fast moving world, the stillness of painting is more relevant and more necessary than ever. The quiet moment between the viewer and artwork bears witness to a tradition as old as our creative instinct. It has always been the duty of the artist to recognize and interpret the issues that impact us, and as painters we share in this responsibility - but we must also remain faithful to this tradition. Straddling these divergent streams that divide the old and the new, tradition and revolution, we have come together as a group, PHARMAKA, to embark on the resurrection of what some have called a dying or anachronistic art: painting.

Painting, at this point in history, has the great responsibility (and luxury) to be about itself. Fundamentally, painting is a language that has existed and flourished for millennia, serving a myriad of social, political, religious, and even mystical purposes. Over the last 50 years, in the face of a growing chorus of media that have crowded the field of contemporary art, the role of painting has changed. Art now seems more concerned with political and cultural commentary, with shock-value as opposed to beauty, with cleverness as opposed to content. For some, this is seen as the end of painting as a valid art form; but for PHARMAKA, it is the moment of liberation. No longer is painting forced to face and explore its own formal limitations. No longer is it compelled to address only political or cultural issues. As painters, we believe in the power of painting as a visual and emotional language.

Postmodernism teaches us that the idea of unassailable Truth (with a capital 'T') is untenable. But that only means that if there is a 'truth' to extol in the world of art, it is the honesty that can exist between the artist and the viewer, and between the artist and the medium. Thus, truth in art can have the luxury of not being preoccupied with the idea of a Truth for all people; rather, it can be defined by and exist in the moment of interaction between artist and artwork, and then between artwork and viewer.

The true power of painting is that it can persuade the viewer to enter into a world created through the crucible of the artist's vision·and great painting commands not just attention, but presence. Creating such works does not come haphazardly, but through painstaking efforts by artists to bring a simple moment of recognition to the viewer. This is why painting is important to PHARMAKA. This is why we have dedicated our lives to learning, improving on, and innovating with this craft. It is when this lifetime of learning is harnessed, creating a moment or idea with pigment on canvas, that the viewer can be persuaded to slow down·and compelled to look.

To many who practice the craft, painting is a mystical experience. The act of mixing oil and pigment, of moving paint across a surface, is creation in a very real sense. This has little to do with the act of capturing an image or a moment. It is the act of interpreting a vision, conveying an idea, and it does not rely on the external to be understood · great painting requires only one ephemeral, yet triumphant, moment of real human understanding between the viewer and the artist.

PHARMAKA does not seek to incite social change, or make pointed political commentary. We are not here to deny the validity of the chorus of media and concepts that have become part of the pantheon of contemporary art. We are here, as artists, to make art. We are here to share our truths with the viewer through the very visceral act of painting. We are here to compel the world to stop, if only for one brief moment, and share in a truth that might only exist for an instant.

As people we experience the world through the deceptively simple act of being. As artists, we speak of a world that is seen through open eyes and interpret it for the world to see. But as painters, we paint.

© 2005 -
Website by David Haig Alexander