In his art over the past three decades, Roland Flexner devises ingenious techniques to strike a balance between the countervailing forces of intention and chance. In 1995 he commenced his series of bubble drawings, made by blowing a mix of soapy water and India ink through a straw onto sheets of paper. Subsequent series have taken new approaches to manipulating ink, with Flexner pouring and tilting it, spraying it with water, blotting it, and, once again, directing his breath through straws. The resulting black-and-white fields, which straddle the line between abstraction and depiction, resemble the molten landscapes of newborn worlds.
In the series to which the work seen here belongs, Flexner places similar limits on his authorial control by employing the fluid medium of smoke. Centering these images on a skull made of jet (a type of coal with a long history of use in jewelry), the artist draws with wisps of smoke by blowing it with straws. He then photographs the outcome and digitally mirrors the photograph to produce compositions with Rorschach test-like suggestiveness.