Paintings For The Future: Shannon Finley at Jessica Silverman Gallery
If you get up close to Shannon Finley’s paintings, on view at Jessica Silverman Gallery through October 29, you’ll catch a glimpse of the warp and weft of the canvas beneath all that color. It’s there, visible along the very edges of the work where the stretcher bars made tight contact with Finley’s pallette knife and squeezed out all the paint. But from the distance of your monitor you may not even realize that the slick compositions are paintings at all -- they originate on Finley’s computer, all polygons and symmetry and speaking a kind of digital language. Take one step closer and they’re unmistakably beautiful paintings, as engrossing and aesthetically wrought as large beautiful paintings tend to be. One step closer still and they performatively reveal their material processes -- scrapes from the palette knife trace the artist’s path, and dried globules of paint point to a temporal kind of accumulation. And the support, that canvas I mentioned earlier, begins to allude to that postmodernist bent of turning painting inside out, of making paintings that reveal themselves via their own constitution. But that’s not quite what’s happening here. At least not exactly. - Matt Smith Chavez, San Francisco Contributor
It’s certainly not the case that Finley is interested in unraveling painting the way someone like Dianna Molzan does. But I’d like to imagine that the intentions are similar in the way that he reveals the supports of his work -- we do away with the illusion of painting once painting’s very materials become part of the conversation. But Finley’s work remains illusory at its core. His compositions, abstracted though they might be, are stand ins for another place -- we’re meant to be transported when we come face to face with one of his paintings.Yet there it is. The warp and weft of the raw canvas and the clear outline of the stretcher bars are evidence that it’s all in fact an illusion. It’s as if the magician is there telling us that he didn’t really saw a girl in half. Yet we can’t look away.
Matt Smith Chavez is an artist and writer based in San Francisco.