FRIDAY, July 3 through FRIDAY, July 24, 2015
CLOSED SATURDAY JULY 4
Reception for the artist is on Saturday, July 11, 6-8 pm
Gallery talk at 7 pm
Jeff Pullen’s works are not just illusions of three-dimensional realities. They are actually three dimensional, images of cityscapes painted on all sorts of construction materials, from shutters to bricks and siding. These works are large and fill many of the galleries at the Crary.
Pullen was born in New York and continues to live and work there. He holds both a BFA and an MFA from Pratt Institute and has been exhibiting steadily through the years, with over fifty solo exhibitions to his credit. His extensive resume can be downloaded as a PDF here.
The Picture Plane’s movement throughout the history of painting has been glacial. Its progress measured in centuries, defined by only a handful of artists. Pictorial space was regarded as flat and illusionistic with any attempt to turn, shift or redefine the plane met with resistance and derision. Forays into another dimension no matter what the size, were immediately labeled relief or sculpture, no longer to be considered painting.
It is my contention that the painted image is the illusion regardless of its surface. Linen or canvas lends no extra validity to the image. My first introduction to the idea of painting on non-traditional surfaces and forming a new and dual reality came in the form of Graffiti’s colorful letters and cartoons undulating across the doors and windows of a full length subway car in the 1970’s and 1980’s presenting one illusion until the car doors opened revealing the second reality, the riders inside and the cars functional interior. Reacting to this new duality, my work over the past twenty years has been a continually changing illusion/reality dynamic. I paint my imagery directly onto walls constructed of brick, louver doors, plexi-glass, car-hoods and other assorted building materials. The selections in both cases of image and surface are not random choices. I am not striving for a dominant and subordinate balance, rather an existing simultaneous “push/pull” or “illusion/reality.” Both elements should always be at the viewer’s forefront. This is not a sculpture involved with negative space. Form and the illusion become form that create multiple views both real and imagined. The narrative picture dictates the form and the construction demands how the illusion is read, whether its surface is floating above on plexi-glass or ensconced within the brick and louvers. I have chosen to use realistic images in my work in the hopes of garnering an emotional response from the viewer and ultimately fusing it with the tactile qualities of the constructed surfaces. I wish to involve all who come to peruse my work to engage in a constant dialogue back and forth between the two realities. One should not be comfortable looking at a painting but rather be continually challenged. Most recently I have begun to further confront the viewer in the form of cutouts in the surface exposing the wall behind the piece, or one constructed of brick, stone, wiring, etc. bringing the illusion full circle back to flat. The picture plane in my work is never stationary because as one moves back and forth between the two distinct elements, the plane continually shifts.
Every generation in time has trumpeted the death of painting or has created rules for it that have been set in stone, from the Catholic Church to Clement Greenberg. When Cezanne tilted his picture plane he did so unaware he would outrage the French Academy and later be proclaimed the “Father of Modernism.” When Rothko painted his floating blocks of color he did so long before being hailed as the first “Color Field Abstractionist.” In my work, I have no desire to be regarded as a 21st Century Mannerist. It is my considered opinion that the artist is continually learning all that he can, finding his vision over time, and setting out to express it any way possible. And if he is fortunate, he may change many of the rules along the way.