Triple Glazed

Private View:

November 15, 2007 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm


November 16, 2007 - December 9, 2007

Light is the ephemeral substance from which Paul Green’s watercolour paintings are built. Natural light, or that reflected back through the portals of his mother’s suburban dwelling from the world outside: an external source of illumination that pervades as opposed to illuminate each scene from within. The sickly jaundiced glow that might, for example, transform an unremarkable hallway into a tunnel between tangible and existential concerns radiates from a street lamp rather than a bare interior bulb. A light that as it changes throughout the course of a day might cloak the ordinary world with a sense of loss, nostalgia or communicate something of the state of limbo between life and death.

In the two-year period before his mother’s demise Green spent much time in the house he grew up in, recording the increasingly ephemeral physical presence of its owner through his painted descriptions of familial interiors. The inevitable presence of death is in the details: whether washed out to a spectral skin or the densely applied suggestion of the encroaching dark. The relationship between the domestic interior and the outside implies a paradoxical sense of time running out yet life essentially remaining unchanged. In certain images the pictorial construction feels entirely conscious; in others a secondary consideration to the channelling of a particular thought or emotion. There is nothing Whistlerian about these watercolours. The architectural motifs (forms pixelated through glazed glass, vast swathes of floral patterned curtains) draw from art historical sources as diverse as Chuck Close and Eric Bawden

The ordinariness of suburban facets – the suggestion of treasured knick-knacks or upholstered details – keeps the focus on the present as opposed to the pervasive threat of the hereafter and rescues these images from the clutches of sentimentality or morbidity. Green’s very dry sense of humour in the face of immense sadness is also critical to how these paintings are read: a lone lampshade on a ceiling becomes a metaphor for the personal peculiarities that punctuate rites of passage, its retro form stranded in a Styrofoam sea. The figure of Green’s mother ranges in painterly styles and symbolic representation from a defiant, acutely rendered matriarchal presence to a tragi-comic manifestation of bleached-out watercolour spots. As a group they afford us a profound glimpse of the disparity between that we can and cannot grasp.