The Space Between Statement
Margaret Keller

The Space Between series is an installation of paintings and mixed media that looks at nature and questions how to see nature, both visually and conceptually, now that the virtual world and its companion imagery have become more real than reality for so many.  
 
Contemporary experience of nature is rarely in person.  On a daily basis, rather than having bare feet touch the grass, or move along a wooded trail, it is primarily through the digital imagery of photographs, videos or movies that we connect with nature.  Our views of nature are selected and manipulated, as is our visual focus. Our non-immediate world (television, advertising, journalism, film, video, email, the internet) is mediated through photography so completely that we are often blind to the distortion and manipulation of the camera’s eye. The Space Betweenseries redirects the photographically-derived, soft focus that pervasively informs our perception so that the human eye intervenes with the camera’s eye and takes priority. 
 
At first glance, the imagery is not obviously trees, sky, mountains, and the spaces between them.  Instead, a variety of subjects seem to appear. These could be micro views through a microscope of amoebas, bacteria, cells, viruses or other organic forms. Just as easily, we could be looking through a telescope at macro forms in the vast cosmos of outer space.  
 
Using the format of the tondo (Italian: rotondo-round)for round paintings also suggests views through lenses, portholes and other various viewing devices. As concentric systems organized around a center, circles are both self-contained (with an equal distance from the center to the circumference) and imply cropped, bounded infinity.  Tondos from Greek antiquity and the Renaissance were shapes uniquely qualified to house the transcendent, as works by Michelangelo, Raphael and Botticelli show. Tondos assist the view into transcendence.  
 
Traditionally, landscapes use a horizontally-oriented rectangle in response to the weight and horizontality of nature.  In tandem with The Space Betweentondo installation,other paintings in this series use a square format.  The square is a hybrid that contains aspects of both the circle (centricity) and the rectangle (the grid).  As a compositional device, the square – like the tondo - reinforces the notion of landscapes situated at the intersection of physical and 
conceptual space.  
 
These artworks are all vehicles for scouting beyond traditional landscape painting in order to slip into an amorphous spot.  Here, the voids or spaces between trees, branches, and clouds are as important as the objects.  Empty spaces create the image.  Voids are nothing and everything simultaneously.   These blurry ‘spaces between’ are the tale-tell and normally ignored signs of photographic sources now altered to replace their former selves. These paintings highlight the power and role of focus in controlling vision.  Tree branches may appear as mere wisps, nearly as ethereal as air in this process of condensation, dispersion and reinvention. In the work of 19thcentury landscape painter George Inness, nature is abstracted so that the shapes between landscape elements are as important as the landscape itself.   Similarly, Piet Mondrian’s early realistic landscapes ultimately morph into pared-down abstract grids filled with both voids and colored shapes that move back and forth in spatial extension, with a suggestion of the infinite cosmos in his late work.  A sense of the same boundlessness seems to be trapped inside these paintings, in spite of the enclosing foliage.
 
As landscape hybrids, these paintings invoke oppositions:  representation versus abstraction, the scientific versus the romantic, machine-like smoothness versus the rough physicality of paint, and spatial infinity versus two-dimensional flatness. The Space Betweenseriesexamines and manipulates nature through the filter of these contradictions.
 
December 2018
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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