Barbara Kerwin, 1996-2006

Ten years following my departure from the Claremont Graduate University are represented by the paintings in this review, spanning over 80 group exhibitions around the US and half a dozen solo shows.

My paintings are meditations on my life experiences, expressed around a current concern, and placed into a geometric format which corresponds to the idea of containment. The fluid action of the high-melt oil and wax method I have developed for these paintings is difficult to control, which here, corresponds to freedom and opposes the idea of the containment of the geometric structure. I like the dichotomy of these ideas together, Freedom and Containment, and have been exploring it for the past decade.

All of the works represented are rectangles, are about rectangles, and all hang on the wall. All of the works have incorporated the high-melt method I created in my laboratory/studio to achieve a hardness rarely found in encaustic paintings. The high-melt medium is brushed on in thin, instantly fusing, millimeter layers, and then buffed. The process requires the use of a gas mask to work with this beautiful, yet toxic medium. The tedious, application method allows my thoughts to catch a glimpse, perhaps, of something more.

The first of the solo shows was called, THE GRID, and was about architecture and explored the space between the paintings. THE GRID was comprised of either white or umber paintings, which I refer to as the Rilke Series. The next show, FRACTRURED AND FACTURED, playfully titled pieces made in homage to eight of my favorite modernist architects, with 80s techno song titles—such as Tainted Love (made with a desire to be placed in a Mies van der Rohe space). DREAMING OF RECTANGLES took a more lyrical approach to the grid, exploring the connections of colors from dreams and intuitions. SEQUENCE, was an investigation of beauty using the Fibonacci sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 2…which allowed me to explore the space around each rectangular insert (corresponding to the integers of the sequence), and to tightly control my color from cool neutrals up through heated reds (all of the paintings used variants of the same nine hues).

The most recent series: SCREENS, was presented as an installation of paintings about film, and it's production processes were used as titles: Take, Book, Set, Green Screen, Blue Screen, Lights, and Wrap…. Here, the rectangle is reduced to the space within, creating large, minimal fields of a layered color. The colors are deep and the screens create a place to project one's personal stories upon, for me, To Eleanor! my mother.

I would like to thank the writers, Luke Carson, Marge Bulmer, Mat Gleason, Kerry Kugelman, and Jeanne Willette for the reprint of their articles about the accompanying works.