PAINTINGS

 

I use abstract forms to explore the paradoxical visual capacities of paint. On the canvas, these paradoxes often come from three basic situations: when defined geometric shapes are formed from the loose medium of paint; as vibrant color modulates against neutral or muddy tones; and in the optical play of forms which fluctuate between shape and void. I see these dynamics as visual metaphors for the way we relate as people, and how the natural world behaves. When I use coarse brushwork to offset the inertness of a static shape, or apply a transparent color against one that is opaque, it is part of an intuitive (rather than rational) process -- a visual jockeying for a balance of extremes, which continues throughout the production of the piece. This back-and-forth can be challenging, because it often requires a “letting go” of areas, which I may find interesting, or even beautiful, but which do not serve the piece as a whole. Unlike other disciplines, in the (non-digital) visual arts, all changes are final. There are no saved drafts, or back-up recordings. Despite the realization that what once was, is gone for good, there remains a history of marks and layers beneath the surface -- a conciliatory palimpsest of past events, which provides energy, dimension, and procedural information that I believe enhances the viewing experience.

 

I find the more contact I have with digital imagery the more I am drawn to material substance. Exposing the painting process unapologetically, reveals its challenges and imperfections. So the sides of some pieces may be tattered, drippy, and smudged; the edges of forms may bleed into others; and contours may be imprecise. Rather than hide the tendencies of painting and handwork, I confront the sanitization of refinement and underscore the inherent untidiness of the natural and human imprint.

 


WORKS ON PAPER

 

In my drawings I combine abstract forms within settings of charcoal frottage (rubbing), to create imaginary spaces that are at once spare and luxurious. Using hard-edged imagery against the hand-worked background allows me to encapsulate the sensual complexities that arise from this merger of visual polarities. The backgrounds, though derived from natural raw surfaces like wood or textiles, exude an unnatural glow, not so different from that of electronic screen. It is just one of the many visual elements of interest to me in the area of non-literal communication.

 

Both projects reinterpret the modernist logic of figure/ground in a contemporary light, where form, composition, color and texture function like characters in a play that explores the nuances of visual vocabulary.

 

 

TITLES

 

The titles come from personal experiences that take place during the course of production, and may be chosen at any point in the process.  Although these pieces evolve from formal and conceptual explorations, the titles acknowledge the inescapable residue of daily life that seeps into the studio, inevitably influencing my physical or emotional state as I work.  This way, for me, they serve as markers for those specific times, and for the viewer, ground the paintings in the real world.

CATHERINE SCALA