Downs is definitely a throwback in his overall view of painting. Now in his late 50’s, he was very fortunate to have had mentors such as Karl Benjamin and Frederick Hammersley in the mid 80’s. Being in the presence of such noted painters impressed on him the importance and responsibility of being true to one’s own vision.
“By speaking clearly in a nonobject idiom, the goal is to make art that reflects modern day life. My process consists of layering spontaneous random marks that are sometimes completely obscured. By working and reworking surfaces, I expose the varying depth of color which creates spaces that expand and contract, communicating the work’s shifting moods.”
In his latest body, the “Manhattan Series”, Downs recalls when he first moved to New York in the mid 70’s. Emotions of the average person were on a much more intense level as far as fear, crime and the overall lack of beauty in the city. For Downs, this was an opportunity to experience firsthand the gritty and raw energy to be used in his paintings to come. This body of work is his attempt to recreate the tension, movement and color of that era.
The strength in these works is in the artist’s understanding of color, balance and simplicity. Each mark is made by one tool, a single edge razor blade which is deeply scraped into the many surfaces of the painting. This process is very physical and demands great caution not to damage the canvas. His works emit a sense of risky adventure. They are created not of one heavily worked surface, but with four to five hundred painted layers of varying thickness and transparency, all of which subtly interact.
Downs deconstructs layers of his paintings to reveal individual elements, which create the surface tension essential to animating his abstracts. The smallest patch of pigment can be taken as a whole, complete unto itself. The works bring one word to mind energy, a sense of action.
Downs has been painting professionally for over 30 years and has exhibited nationally and internationally. His work has been included in group shows with noted artists such as Andre Miripolsky, Mark Mothersbaugh and Karl Benjamin. Downs’ works are included in private collections throughout the world.