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Kenneth Schnall Painting Statement July 2013
The major issue that instructs the form of my work is the belief that a painting can declare itself decisively transformed when it is perceived as an object engaged in real space.The juncture between painting and drawing on and within this shaped abstract work is where I address core- painting ideas and issues of space and place along with a testing of psychological expectations about what a painting can be.
In this work I am drawn to the issue of place but out of landscape. I imply a personal visual pilgrimage, a shifting condition between source points, beyond landscape, or a defined moment in time, a crossing between here and there, out of time, a never ending journey in a metaphysical space. I try to lose myself in a trackless empyrean entwined
in color, shape and line to pursue emotional reaction. In the altered structure of my work I look for a sense of transcendence, anticipation, unease and wonder with reflection about shifting moments in time.
To accomplish this I draw inspiration from the long rich classical tradition of European painting, but I also look at color ideas reflected in early Roman and Oriental glassware and nature for references that suggest energy, space and color, to affect my work with emotional content in visually dynamic, seductive ways. Underlying meanings in my minds eye, rooted in memory, are exposed with vigorous maneuver between materials and surface in free networks of submerged pentimento. Archeological impressions from antiquity and nature are integrated in constructed forms.
I work in a Baroque painting inspired form that is outside the traditional right angle, flat surface painting shape, to offer dramatic theatrical possibilities for visual power and presence. The folds, rolls, creases, edges, and textured surfaces in the work are active structural visual devices in the paintings to promote forcefulness in space and movement. Sometimes linear elements whip over involved shapes with a life of their own to provoke emotional response and reveal fresh possibilities for visual interpretation.In my wall sculptures I use prepared paper to manipulate shape in malleable forms and than treat them with coloring agents for emotional effect. Pronounced projection from the wall surface allows shadow to play a powerful descriptive role. The shaped paper material in these sculptures is an active device to indicate solidity in space and movement with visual thrust. I also use shape construction in paper and artist books that provoke ideas in my work.
In these sculptural wall pieces I reflect and absorb some of the power and strength that still exists and emanates from heavy, wearing, deteriorating stone and metal surfaces in surviving structures from Newark, New Jersey’s industrial railroad past. The Ironbound section of the city wrapped in girders, metal sheets and massive stone is slowly giving way to nature’s corrosive elements, industrial misuse and urban waste. But these surfaces blotted and worn, though sad, still project an enduring story of power and strength that resists the ravages of the moment and prompts personal reflection on the inevitability of time passing, with attending physical limitations but a sense of endurance.
Above all I want the viewer to sense and feel the way these shaped painted objects are involved in their projected space with clear evidence of my hand in their physical presence.