First Street Gallery
Dana Saulnier
Night Tides: Water, Flesh, and Sky
October 4 - 29, 2011
Night One
Night One, 2011, oil on canvas, 63"x84"
Reception: Thursday October 6, 5-8 pm

Statement on the Night Paintings

The night paintings began with the experience of loss when one I loved lost her memory. Our relationship collapsed into darkness. Even though my emotional orientation to these events is central to this work, this explanation is too simple. In art, explanations need not be inaccurate to be inadequate. Rationales rapidly become too small, too needful of cause and effect thinking that is inadequate to thinking about painting. Though these works structure loss they also contradict loss understood as a slow retreat of memory. Rather, the work impels presence. The paintings are insistently carnal; flesh bears weight and pressure, flesh becomes muscular, growing, falling, tipping, spilling, collapsing, and decaying. The paintings mediate a complex nullified relationship to the history of painting. The figure in landscape, with its dynamic poles of encompassing nature and now lost relationships to spiritual traditions, becomes present within the work even as the images are fragmented across multiple frames of reference. I welcome the differences; seeing painting as a site of colliding, overlapping sense.

My painting has always moved between tactile and optical modes seeking a space where sense opens thinking. Cyclical perception, limited perception, presence and absence, have been structured within my painting practice and I now think that I have been making ‘night’ paintings for some time without calling them such. I think this is because of something more fundamental to the work, to its specific carnal pulse aligned with its reticence. This becomes clearer if we think ‘night’ as a plenum wherein we find ourselves differently. We live the night as beings permeated with its intimacy. Feeling our way through the dark, touch is the active mode of sense. Yet, we inherently understand that touch is personal and therefore profoundly limited and provisional to any understanding of what is beyond ourselves. We find the night differently; the intimacy of the night becomes as a beginning. I find myself in the night mode of painting, embedded in the insistent, dense, materiality of painting, awaiting what painting will make visible: a witness to the night.

Gallery hours: 11 am - 6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday