Exploring the Facade of Painting – An artistic inquiry into how we experience and relate to space by Christopher L. Mercier
As a child, Christopher L. Mercier remembers dreaming of being able to get inside of a painting, to climb into its elusive space and literally experience the location, time, person or emotion. Instead, both paintings’ beauty and its curse is that it always leaves one on the outside looking in.
“This perspective has led to the practice of painting as a continual exploration into creating work that is more openly accessible to the viewer,” says Mercier. “I am fascinated with the idea of constructing paintings in some manner where there’s a way the viewer is allowed to enter into and better engage with the Space of Painting.”
Mercier’s exhibition at SoLA explores how painting can move beyond its two-dimensional field (picture plane plus picture frame), testing alternate ways to further inform three-dimensional experiences and still remain engaged with and linked to the two-dimensional tradition of painting. His pieces hover somewhere between the fields of painting, sculpture and architecture and require the viewer to fully engage the work from multiple positions, perspectives, distances, scales and locations.
As the founder of Los Angeles-based (FER), a contemporary architecture and urban design studio, Mercier focuses daily on environmental narratives and the creation of unique design solutions, all of which lend to and complement his fascination with art and his years-long inquiry into the physical depth of paintings and what that means to him. Exploring the Facade of Painting is a culmination of his discoveries as well as a hope to inspire reconsideration as to how and what a painting can and might be, expanding the viewer’s ability to participate and engage with painting beyond just having a visual, mental and emotional response to imagery.
“This body of work tries to understand paintings’ history and tradition through contemporary eyes,” Mercier explains. “It attempts to reimagine a painting’s surface not as a clean, white impenetrable flat slate, but instead as something more akin to a building’s façade in a very abstract sense.” In other words, as something that is its own compressed sense of depth, breadth and space to be entered and explored.
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