Mercier's interest in ‘Painting’ focuses on exploring the workings of the Pictorial Window and its relationship to two and three dimensional space. Traditionally the pictorial window or picture plane while framing the view has always created a separation of space between the viewer and the viewed. It has held its position at the perimeter of painting for centuries (with or without an actual frame) keeping in-tacked the boundary between the real space we live in and the imaginary. This condition has only ever allowed ‘Painting’ to represent space two dimensionally or as a three dimensional projected illusion (perspective techniques). My work explores an alternate expanded condition by repositioning the act of framing and altering both the location and condition of separation created by the picture plane.
Each work initially functions like a spatial enclosure or space frame, a construction of multiple differing oriented panels, set in a three dimensional orientation that collect and enclose a condition of physical space. Through this formation a repositioning and multiplication occurs, numerous picture planes start to appear (multi-tasking windows?) alongside alternate three dimensional spatial cavities, canyons and pockets. New spaces and places to explore ‘Painting’ start to unfold, some obvious, others hidden and still others further concealed. These new locations not only challenge the place of painting but they also starts to question its formal characteristics. For example, can ‘Painting’ still be ‘Painting’ in a three dimensional position? This starts a new or expanded dialogue between the ‘space of painting’ and the materiality of paint. How does painting both occupy and inform space? This has led me to a rethinking the nature of paint, not only a pigment medium for the creation of imagery, but also as a construction/form making material. Within this new format the act of painting is allowed to both create imagery as well as form and project off the surface and out into space.
Overall the work as a project starts to open the once distant or conceptual interior dimension of painting to a more physically accessible experience. This in turn, requires a more active viewer, a mobile participant as they alter their position in the gallery visually and physically searching the work for the various points of entry both physical and imagery (doors & pop-up windows). At the scale of the gallery, the grouping of works collectively engage the overall space of the room at different scales and start to suggest a larger spatial installation transforming the experience of the gallery. Together the whole process resembles a cross between the acts of painting, sculpting and architectural modeling and allows both ‘Painting’ to move through the pictorial window(s) while at the same time invites the viewer into the space of ‘Painting’. All in all the works and larger project at hand begin to propose a possible alternate position to celebrate and explore ‘Painting’. Each work acts like a kind of new type of ‘Painting Device’. Re-positioning and re-orienting the ‘frame’ of painting it opens the once flat ‘working space’ still within the wall mounted tradition of painting. In the end it provides an expansion of ‘paintings’ depth through a new engagement with the physical world of three dimensional space.
Christopher L. Mercier
Christopher L. Mercier is an established artist and architect whose work explores the rift between real and pictorial Space.
PAINTING DEVICES by Christopher L. Mercier