Gallery Talk by Barbara Grad
November 7, 2010
About the Exhibit
Works in Video Villa: New Paintings by Barbara Grad take their inspiration from the dynamic intersection of two worlds seemingly at odds. Contrasting maps against aerial topography, the artist explores the boundaries between the built and the natural world. Her stunning command of painterly abstraction, both geometric and organic, moves the viewer from a belief in a recognizable place into an even more convincing reality of a painterly space.
Medium-to-large scale paintings engage us at a human scale with a surface imagery that offers tension between abstraction and representation. An animated movement choreographs our gaze, and we experience a sense of wonder and delight in the seeming abandon of a graffiti-influenced passage of fluorescent pink floating atop the grid of a city in Erosion (2008). Here, the element of instruction—how do we find our way?—meets Grad’s distinctive painterly gesture. The viewer reads through translucent layers of oil on linen; the paintings seem to slide off the canvas. This sense of gravity giving up its power to a painted space is even more emphatically realized in her multi-canvas paintings such as Video Villa (2009–10).
The composition of Boundary Shift (2008) suggests urban sprawl and initiates a dialogue regarding gesture at the service of both control and abandon. A central hub of small, banded rectangles in cool white-infused blues spirals outward toward a loosely painted atmospheric arena of ochre; the indistinct boundaries suggest that this painting has contained only a small part of this painterly universe. A middle landscape of ruddy brown is a meeting place for the grid and the atmosphere. The reality of gravity and landmass gives way to the inspiration of Color Field painting. Here, as in many of Grad’s works, we move away from the familiar and become lost in a painterly space.