“We go through our lives… bombarded [by] … internal and external forces. Often, our personal stimuli-memories, inspiration, longing, lust-seem to come from somewhere outside ourselves, outside our control,” writes San Anselmo painter Jeffrey Palladini. This postmodern concept of human limitations is useful, but only to a point: Sir Kenneth Clark in his Civilisation series stated that artists need a base level of confidence in society. Palladini has found a way out of the despair born of helplessness. Quoting Faulkner’s “the past is not even past,” Palladini hypothesizes time to be as fluid a medium as the watery beings it supports: “Perhaps moments are not linear and sequential, but looping, repeating, simultaneous.” He considers time as relative, and “time’s steady march” as possibly just another sociocultural myth.
In paintings and one sculpture, Palladini questions human perception as well as the conventions of traditional (immobile) art. He depicts the silent protagonists of his paintings in the bold outlines and flat colors of pop art, but with their faces averted from the viewer, and subjected to “fragmentation, multiple views, sequential images, and offsets” (his words). Shift #2 shows a young man’s head from a three-quarter rear view, his face hidden, with the image seemingly painted on out-of-register slats or strips that one visually tries to “correct.” Doppler, its name reflecting the subjectivity of perception, comprises 25 square paintings of a man’s profile with the face cropped out, as if badly photographed; it is seen in sequence small, larger, and then again small, as if the camera zoomed in and out, looking for focus. An Alternate #2 juxtaposes two identical views of a figure looking down, with the standing figure seeming to scrutinize the horizontal one below. Chaise #24 and A Gradual Descent feature sleeping women, one in bed, the other napping at poolside or beach, both with faces averted. The sculpture, Seven Pieces, is a pyramid of painted wooden sticks; stand in the right position, and the abstract images align and coalesce into another of the artist’s elusive protagonists. As Palladini explains: “Our identity is made up entirely of bits of past, present,
and future, and is never static.”
oil and charcoal on wood
36″ x 72″
Photo: courtesy Andrea Schwartz Gallery