Brendan Carroll

Within the historical lineage of painting, the canvas has been compared to a window, in that it opens the wall to a view beyond the surface. Much later, modernism extolled the virtues of materiality. Painters capitalized on the physical attributes of the surface and artists made reference to the walls on which paintings hung. Today, I see another paradigm. Painting as screen. Here, I refer to both the window screen and the digital screen. Paradoxically, screens act as a flat physical impediment to the experience of depth, yet they allow for the illusion of greater space beyond the viewer’s screened environment.

The majority of encounters with screens occur with the viewer disregarding its existence, and ignoring the effects on what is viewed beyond it. The prevalence of screens in daily life has made attending to them, or acknowledging them, impossible. For instance, it would difficult to write this sentence if I only looked at the smudged and dusty piece of plastic that is my computer screen instead of the words I am writing (imagine trying to drive a car and only seeing the windshield.) My paintings investigate how viewers see or do not see screens. The viewer can focus beyond the screen or concentrate entirely on that illusory barrier. Perhaps the most difficult challenge is to accommodate the influence of the screen while engaging the picture beyond it. The screen requires a decision, to ignore, to focus, or determine effects. To include the screen in the evaluation of one’s view requires concentration, introspection, or at least a keen awareness of environment.

Screens embody the world we know at a material level and the influence that world has on the beliefs and suspicions we hold for a deeper reality or illusion. Through painting, I can manipulate and drive attention into deep space, surface materiality, and/or render them simultaneously. Sometimes the screens allow a nearly uninhibited view, and in other instances, the picture is almost entirely obscured.

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Stained Glass



Windows, Walls, and Screens