Between illusion and clarity lies perception. How do we separate what we see from what we think we see? These are the realms of visual exploration that Paul Pinkman has continuously explored: he posits questions that seek to understand the complexities of sight as well as those of insight. In his paintings and photographs, the visual plane is architectural, geometric, and always in the service of perception. Change is the constant; permutations are energized by repeated looking. This involves attention to time and memory — the two basic constructs of visual perception. The same objects and subjects seen over a long period of time are mercurial, changed by time and memory. Pinkman calls attention to the vagaries of perception by calling attention to its precepts of order and sequence. He brings the two-dimensional surface into tension with the three-dimensional eye.
In projects such as “Dogwalks” and “Moment by Moment“, the viewer is called upon to reinterpret the landscape without the moorings of horizon, space, and depth. Instead, these landscapes become a kind of photographic Rorschach test for how we perceive what is in front of us. These images — beautiful in their composition and surface — are disarmingly constructed to make us think twice and we take pleasure in the puzzle of looking. Earlier paintings relate to this work directly: such works as “Lavender Heart” and “Intervention” are precedents through which the later photographic explorations culminate. His constant interruptions of the compositional surface with seemingly disparate objects are intentional incorporations of visual ideas that energize the viewer’s choices. How deeply do we really see, and what is that process?
In his narrative and figurative work, these ideas are also present: we are led to series of images and ideas to look at, each multiplying the visual, emotional, and perceptual choices that will enable us to read the paintings’ meanings. Images and colors are layered on top of each other or sequenced into geometric grids. Nothing is presented in the linear — what he pulls up from the past directly connects with the present he is painting. These works provides an almost cinematic experience of looking.
Pinkman’s color choices only enhance what perception offers: his choices here continue to serve the act of looking — and it is with color that he introduces emotional equivalents. One is mesmerized, taken in, and then loses oneself in the simple pleasure of trying to work out the space of composition.
The strength of Pinkman’s visual ideas is the belief that such physical interactions of perception are an integral part of the process of viewing art. The canvas and the viewer connect completely and interact. What is stimulating to the eye because it is beautiful, is also what keeps the eye questioning across these sumptuous planes of image, color, and composition. This offers every viewer an active and invigorated communication with his art.
You can read Philip’s poetry at https://philipfclark.wordpress.com/.