Since the late 15th century when painters first stretched fabric over a wood frame, the favorite format for paintings has been a rectangle. For over 400 years painters were content to use their canvases to create illusionistic images of reality. But about 100 years ago in the early days of the 20th century, some artists stopped seeing the rectangle as a window to be looked through, but as something to be looked at. They saw the opportunity to make something more real. Illusion became allusion, RE-presentation became PRESENT-ation as artists sought to make art concrete through the manipulation of materials on their rectangular surfaces.
Robert Carioscia bejewels his hand-made and found objects transforming the dross into the precious. His Reptarium Assemblages series incorporates clay, polymer paint, mirrors, glue, and plastic reptile figurines. In the compositions, the different materials are assembled in a manner that mimics actual reptiles roaming a primordial landscape seen from above.
Maureen Palmieri creates assemblages of found objects, which become imbued with a mystical numinosity. Her installation, Candlewall, examines the manipulation of wax as a medium, how it will lose its form in intense heat and subsequently harden into a different shape.
Alexander Percy’s paintings examine the materiality of paint and its subsequent forms and shapes, turning it into a sculptural medium. Color becomes object in high relief, as expressionistic surfaces capture a particular feeling inspired by the different pigments.
Ted Stametelos builds intuitive surfaces in a variety of materials, which then become the substrate for color explorations. His works may include elements of symbolism and make references to the origins of language and interpersonal communication.
Felicitas Wetter prints non-objective monotypes, which are then torn into pieces. The prints are then reconstructed, often with architectonic or mythic significance, to enhance the viewer’s interpretation. Through this process of reconstruction and referencing past cultures and beliefs, the artist is perhaps contemplating man’s durability in the world – creating something new from remnants of the past.
The artistic process of each of the five artists in Beyond Painting each began with a traditional rectangular format and each has found his or her own way to create concrete realities through tactile surfaces.