James Cullinane: Portals
October 28 through December 23, 2016
Opening reception: October 28, 2016, 6-9pm
Portals is an exhibition of a new series of diptychs (ink and acrylic on paper on panel) by New York City artist James Cullinane that explores the philosophical experience of now. The creation of light and space through a process of mark making and breathing is a metaphor for this experience. Each composition is a meditation on the present with the artist’s breathing playing a central role in the creation of each mark, dot or spray.
Cullinane begins each diptych along the seam between the panels. Working from the center out the initial drawing emerges from the line of separation between the panels to create a unified whole. Each line begins and ends in an ink dot as he randomly fills the surface of the panel regulating his breathing as he draws. In some compositions Cullinane uses an old-fashioned mouth atomizer, which use a simple tube mechanism and the artist’s breath to spray ink across the surface creating gradations of color and value. Looking like open books or, perhaps, Rorschach tests, the scale of each piece is intimate and relates directly to the human form, specifically to the artist’s body. The width of the large horizontal diptychs is about Cullinane’s average reach and when turned vertically the diptychs resemble the size of windows. The varying densities of lines, dots and sprays alter our perceptions of form and space. The resulting compositions undulate across the surface, expanding and contracting in and out of a perceptual space.
Cullinane’s use of dualities (black/white, dot/dash, left/right, top/bottom, light/dark, dense/sparse, etc) permeates this body of work and establishes a structure for the experience of the present. It is not one or the other, not left or right, top or bottom but the combination of each part that realizes the composition. It is only the combination of these elements in the present moment of viewing that finishes the piece. It is this awareness of the present that is central to both the creation and experience of this work. This Gestalt requires a physical presence and awareness of or an active interaction with the work on the part of the viewer and forces us to remain in the present to experience the work completely.