The subject of identity is one every artist battles with; whether this means voiding identity of its importance or basing one’s art entirely on what it means to be a Self and a human. Gordon Skinner’s work falls within the limitus of an identity in crisis. As a young African-American, the frustration felt by the artist at his lack of ownership in society is something that is centuries old and runs deep with in the veins of society. He is part of a group that feels fragmented, colonized, and lost. As Skinner puts it, “I feel robbed of my heritage and culture.”
This anger and frustration is too big to put into words. So, two years ago in 2009, Skinner turned to paint to vent that sense of invisibility in a tangible way. He began painting figures wearing colorful masks that represent both concealment and expression. Though their true identities, defining features, and identifying qualities are obfuscated by the mask, the images are expressive and dynamic. Skinner tends to challenge the norms of American society in his images, calling upon the sedatives fed to the public through television and reliance on petroleum. In other works, he commemorates those artists that inspire him, from Joan Mitchell to Tracey Emin, expressing that he is fully conscious of the fact that, as a young artist, he is a subject of those who blazed the trail before him.
Full of vigor and animation, his work is raw, spontaneous, colorful, and fragmented. You escape nothing when viewing his work; through a variety of mediums, he lays everything out on the table to be picked over and looked at. There is a rough, almost primal, edge to his artwork. It comes from a severely emotional place, creating an instant and intimate connection with the viewer. Skinner is locating his voice out of voicelessness; as an artist, he is emerging into a category of human that transcends definition and exists purely in a place of creativity and innovation.