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Paintings on Doors

This summer, for the Architecture Department Exhibits series, I hung a show of my paintings in 208 Gould. An edited selection from an extended series, the six works are all oil paintings on landscape format hollow-core door panels. Within a limited pallet of color, form, and technique, the paintings represent an evolving inquiry into issues of surface, space, and story.

The representative space of the paintings is an expansive open landscape with a distant horizon. As figures against that ground, there stands a frugal roadside architecture, with buildings like cereal boxes on their side, holes cut out for doors and windows, a box top for an awning. From that potent ubiquitous typology, each painting finds evocative room for associations of prospect, refuge, location, and inhabitation.

Rarely one layer, picture planes are built up in successive explorations of color, light, and shadow. The original grain of the wood panel reads through, previous layers of paint and translucent laminations emerge and submerge. Surface shading is manipulated to create the illusion of depth, with planes receding, space is created, fundamental and evocative.

Collaborations of chance and accident are embedded in the materials chosen. Cutting through the first surface of the hollow core panel introduces a void in the painted space, and an actual shadow that shifts. Patches of gold leaf change with the light of the room the painting is in, from dull murky gold to a flare of reflected brilliance. Amber colored sewing pattern tissue partially masks the painted surfaces below.

The portrayed scene is sensed as well as seen. The narrative space of the painting extends out, beyond the frame of the picture. Dimensions disappear in the depth of shadows, painted and real. Within the architecture of the painting, spaces and stories are both created and concealed.

Lecturer Jim Nicholls teaches graduate and undergraduate design studios and a graduate lecture course on construction materials and assemblies. He also teaches undergraduate industrial design studios and Public Art Theory courses in the School of Art.


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