Placing Color

Exhibition Dates: April 28 - May 23, 2009

Reception: Saturday, May 2, 5 - 7 pm

 Kayla Mohammadi

Kayla Mohammadi

 Brett Baker

Brett Baker

Placing Color is an exhibition that explores painting as both a place of action and destination. The exhibition presents paintings by three artists: Brett Baker, Kayla Mohammadi, and Carrie Patterson. Seen together, the artists’ intensely individual approaches create places that are both intimate and immense, unified by sensitivity to the means of painting in ways of touch and color.

Painting, the simple means of placing color on a flat surface, is extraordinary in its ability to transport us from the context of our daily existence to new places - complete, vibrant worlds within the boundaries of a two-dimensional frame. Placing Color seeks to reposition the works by the participating artists beyond an interpretation of painting as a site of illusion. The exhibition extends the notion of the painted surface itself as a location or a destination that is defined by the artist’s actions upon it.

Kayla Mohammadi works from observation of landscape, interior, or still life and seeks visual translation rather than literal portrayal in her paintings. Influenced by her dual Finnish and Persian heritage, her work seeks the unexpected place we encounter through sudden, fresh juxtapositions of form and color. In Mohammadi’s paintings, memory, formal elements, and observation are competing energies that coalesce, asking us familiar questions: Can I walk into this space? Do I want to? Am I standing on solid ground, being pushed away, or finally stepping through to a new place?

Brett Baker’s work explores painting as a place of interaction and repose where the artist’s (and by extension the viewer’s) presence completes the work. In his smaller paintings, densely layered over time, a balance of color and mark denies deep space achieving a presence not unlike a portrait of an abstract gaze that activates the space between viewer and work. The artist’s recent large paintings approach a scale normally reserved for sculpture and architecture. Each painting presents a single color on a vast scale. Though mural-sized, these works retain the intimacy of easel painting. Installed facing the wall, the viewer must actively enter the space of the painting, immersing himself or herself in color which seems to project outward itself inhabiting the space between painted surface and gallery wall.

Carrie Patterson’s paintings investigate the tension between the memory of architectural space and the space of painterly process. Her work questions whether the physicality of a painting or collage can be representative of space without illusion. Influenced by architecture where light plays on structure and material, her recent work considers the “translation” of architecture into two dimensional objects .The goal is to feel (in the body), measure (in unexpected ways), and translate (via painting) how buildings both contain and hold the life of people who came before and, in turn, become the vessel of life for people who inhabit the spaces in the present. Patterson works on many canvases at once, altering the arrangement of line, shape and color in subtle degrees, much like a choreographer would alter a repetitive action across a stage.

Vittorio Colaizzi holds an M.F.A. in painting and a PhD in art history from Virginia Commonwealth University. His essays and reviews have appeared in Art Papers, Smithsonian’s American Art, And Woman’s Art Journal. He is currently at work on a critical anthology and a monograph on Robert Ryman. Colaizzi is an Assistant Professor of Art History at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota.