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While Royce and I are individual artists, parents, and alumni of Wake Forest University, this show is very much about painting. Painting offers parameters that for reasons beyond our knowing is endlessly, perhaps relentlessly engaging for us. Within chosen older and more traditional boundaries – no shaped canvases, no high-tech mediums or applications, nothing glib and no intentional appropriation nor quotations, but with attention paid to surface, color, light and craft – we find our habitat. We get along well as painters and in our shared studio space as we get along in most places in life. In crafting our work, we both try to “solve” the painting by doing the least we can to “hold” the piece, and to make it succeed as art made in our time. In each case we believe that painting can convey, better than anything else we can do, the importance of our observations. We both are awed and moved by the work of other painters: Giorgio Morandi, Giovanni Bellini, Vija Celmins, Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman and so many others. Painting is something we chose to do and by doing we hope to make something others chose to observe.

While creating a life side by side and in tandem, painting has always been a way we both navigate the world. There is great attention and care in what we do. Royce’s careful crafting of his images shouldn’t distract from their poetic mystery and make the viewer also miss the obvious – that they are of paint. The direct surfaces of my work are intended to similarly convey a kind of gentle and optimistic poetry, even when the “subject” is, reflexively, their material and construction. Neither of us find paint or painting easy, it fights and talks back all the time. This shared endeavor, like our relationship, is what is constant amid the ebb and flow of the multitude of variables in this life.

  • Nathalie Zhou

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