Cullen Washington, Jr.

In my work, I use the grid as a metaphor for human interconnectivity and to represent the universal framework that undergirds all things. When I was a kid I didn’t want to be an artist, I wanted to be a scientist, because I wanted to understand my environment and metabolize it. I loved nature and all it's mysteries, the universe and space. I’ve always been interested in the framework of what we see as materiality, the thingness of reality. The grid for me is a metaphor for the scaffolding that holds the material world together.

The origin of the word abstract is the Latin abstractus, which means to take away. So when pondering abstraction, I think about it as the theft of reality, the stealing of reality. So when you see the squares on the painting, they are peeled away, they are folded back or folded forward, a peeling away of reality and what is beneath it is blackness, the mystery, the cosmos, the unknown – and that is what is holding everything and everyone together. The grid is both a compositional device and a philosophical idea.

To convey materiality and the idea of noir, I use what’s at my disposal which includes everything from tape, canvas, acrylic paint, charcoal dust, Black chalkboard paint, paper, Black copier toner, acrylic medium, Black ink, Kraft paper, wax coated cotton string, latex house paint, rubber, wire, hot plastic glue and ear phone cushions. These are collage paintings so object is paint to me.