Flashing Red: Tara Costello & Shawn McNulty | Press Release | April 2012
Contemporary painters Shawn McNulty and Tara Costello present new, large-scale pieces that reexamine the quotidian, adding new context and meaning to spaces and occurrences, which previously seemed commonplace. The work invites the viewer to find new perspectives; McNulty’s vibrant colors and Costello’s rich black palette reveal newness in the familiar, as well as unexpected connections between abstract forms. Both artists are Rosalux veterans (McNulty is a founding member) showing together for the first time.
My work is dependent on design fundamentals: form, color, and composition. My style explores the relationship between man-made structures and the natural world; the idea of recognizable shapes and structures living within irrational thoughts and emotions. I begin a new piece very spontaneously and become more detailed as the composition starts to show itself. The first layers are the most erratic and freeform, similar to automatic writing. I use large, commercial grade palette knives. A dialogue is created with the painting, and it starts to show me what needs to be done. My newer work has taken on more of a simplified composition, coming across as abstract landscapes or all-over color fields. I put down the brush and started working exclusively with large commercial grade palette knives around 2008, which had a dramatic effect on my work. I invented a “shoe palette knife” which I use on early layers to challenge the way my body connects to the surface. Thick layers of acrylic and pumice and are applied, scraped off, reapplied, sliced off, etc. There’s a technique I call “scuffling” which involves a repetitive chopping motion with the palette knife resulting in approximate parallel lines. The color fields interplay with each other, attempting to find common ground resulting in complex and interesting edges. The process continues until a solution is found, always applying and mixing paint directly on the canvas, scraping away layers to reveal the ghostly characters of the previous. It’s no mystery that I am influenced by the Abstract Expressionists, and I am combining some of the aspects of action and color field painting.
My paintings examine unfamiliar spaces and the emotive power of the interplay of forms. Layers of Venetian plaster and raw pigment build up to create uncanny spaces in which viewers are called to find unexpected beauty in the relationships between rich textures and primitive marks. I aim to create spaces with variable contexts and perspectives, some hidden from sight, and some starkly unconcealed. While my work at times emulates or alludes to landscape, it is the landscape of emotional experience rather than a reflection of any specific time or place. The spaces in these paintings stem from my own experiences, but the work is more focused on the ineffable pleasure of simply entering into unfamiliar territory, finding new viewpoints, and seeking out new connections. The work is created spontaneously and experimentally. It also invites an improvisational engagement between itself and the viewer. My newer work seeks to move further into abstraction by limiting my palette to primarily black and eliminating previously employed points of reference such as horizon lines. Instead, simpler geometrical shapes are etched into black backgrounds to allow the sumptuous layers of plaster to reveal their own latent truths and to further confound any attempt to maintain a fixed (limited) perspective.
Exhibit runs: April 5th-29th, 2012
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 7th, 2012, 7-11 PM
Preview: Thursday, April 5th, 2012, 5-9 PM