Though I am currently engaged in figurative work, the landscapes and still lifes that I have done until recently have much to do with perception and feeling. I began painting landscape by viewing the natural world as a vehicle for expressing formal issues on canvas, i.e., shape, color, space, etc. As time went on I became drawn into the more spiritual, psychological and atmospheric qualities inherent in the subject and the sense of oneness that pervades everything in nature. I have felt this strongly in the area of coastal Maine, where I have been working for the past twenty summers and also in the Southwest, where I found a different but no less profound and spiritual aspect to the mountains, canyons, and sky, which I felt compelled to explore.

The still lifes are perhaps a more direct approach to the pure pleasure of looking at things. The beauty of natural objects, whether shells, gourds, driftwood or a cat, and the light and shadow which enhances them, has been a source of great satisfaction to me.

The third body of work, the hanged figures and figures in states of decay or mummification may suggest torment or victimization and consequently may evoke powerful emotions within us. We create myths and religious systems as ways of dealing not only with the cruelties and vicissitudes of life but also with the inevitability of death. Mummies and mythical figures in my work are not intended to represent specific political or historical events in any way, but rather to act as symbols or metaphors for the terror, the anguish, the tragic, the comic—even the absurdity and the beauty of life as we experience it.

Arthur Lerner