Selected Paintings (2016-17)
While the sublime as subject in 19th century American landscape painting appears as an ever-widening expanse, Paul’s structural works insist upon narrow verticality. Though they often allude to nature and grand landscapes, these paintings are more like bulwarks than illusionistic windows. Skewed perspectives, shifts in scale, and ambiguous forms fracture these topographies. This is the sublime of the 21st century.
The title “Cutting Garden" refers to one of the many books that were appropriated for this series as well as to the constant pruning that is intrinsic to Paul’s process. Building multiple paintings at once, the artist imposes one piece’s vocabulary and syntax onto another, welcoming contradictions in surface, subject, or vantage point. For instance, when glimpse of the drought-plagued Sahara in a 1974 National Geographic meets a sliver of diagram from an electrician’s textbook and a gesture made by hand with pencil, countless adjustments follow. The result is an accretion of wooden supports, appropriated book covers, collaged photos and illustrations, drawing media, and layers of gouache painting. A whole emerges gradually during the viewing process, but its terrain remains distinctly stratified.