Steven Carrelli

My work is concerned with observation and representation as contemplative activities, and with mark-making as a means of creating a rich, complex surface that embodies human touch. I often start with subjects that are common, familiar and knowable. Through the investment of time and labor, these subjects are recomposed and explored until the act of looking and describing – pulling the subject closer and pushing it away – turns it into something that is more than its name or function: something that is capable of visual richness and associative complexity.

For the past several years I have worked on a series of drawings and paintings in which common and often disposable objects share an invented space with more valued and ostensibly durable structures. I am particularly interested in this relationship between the permanent and the temporary, and in these works I seek to create a pointed interaction between what we make, what we preserve and what we discard. I want my paintings and drawings to function as both images and objects, and my surfaces are worked so as to be both tactile and illusionistic: describing space while drawing the gaze to the painted surface. To this end, I often work in egg tempera, which encourages a process of repetitive mark-making to build up a dense surface of short strokes that define surface while recording the hand's movements over time. In my drawings I often use pencil simalarly to create a surface of delicately hatched marks. These surfaces tend to embody a certain intimacy intended to be encountered at close range, so that the viewer is encouraged to focus on the parts and to search for relationships among them.

The space in these works is constructed and often contradictory. The optical veracity of linear perspective is alternately employed and disrupted, and the drawings in particular often employ large areas left blank to function simultaneously as space and flat surface. Trompe-l’oeil devices are used in both drawings and paintings to create a surprising play of space and surface and to create layers of imagery. The resulting works are both spatial and emphatically two-dimensional. This language serves to give visual form to a series of dialectical relationships between the durable and the disposable, between the stable and the fugitive, and between ambition and failure. The subject matter of these works, then, is really attention and time. Through them I seek to probe the poetry and fragility of the commonplace.

Contact, egg tempera on panel, 18x22

Fragile States, egg tempera on panel, 19x16

Mishap and Disaster, egg tempera on panel, 18x22

Plumb Line (Black), egg tempera on panel, 18x9

Tilted Horizon, egg tempera on panel, 8x11

Probe, egg tempera on panel, 33x18

Standard Deviation, egg tempera on panel, 26x19

Tilted Horizon, egg tempera on panel, 7x11

What Came Before, oil and cold wax on panel, 42x30

Blur (Bellini 1), oil on aluminum, 12x12

Blur (Vermeer), oil and wood, 12x12

Blur (Vermeer), oil on aluminum, 42x30