Trump L’œil

Trump l’œil: Paintings in Other Media
Curated by Ian Breidenbach

Trompe l’œil, a French term meaning “trick of the eye,” is a painting technique in which artists painstakingly create the illusion of a third dimension on a two dimensional surface. The technique was often employed in still lifes during the Baroque period, but stories exist of its usage as far back as Ancient Greece, where birds were said to drop from the sky to eat painted grapes. To much larger effect, the technique has graced walls and ceilings as murals depicting windows, landscapes or forced perspective architectural elements in an effort to make rooms seem larger. Artists in this vein include Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts, Claude Raguet Hirst, Salvodor Dali, and Wiley E. Coyote.

With the advent of photography and its ability to capture exactly the reality in front of it, the need to recreate precisely and deceptively in painting was no more, and the art world exploded in the schism that was abstraction. The height of an artist’s skill was no longer based on an exactness of representation. By the rise of Conceptual art in the 1960s, skill itself was on the chopping block, and before long artists themselves didn’t need to be the makers of their own works.

But through all of the permutations of style, incoming and outgoing modes and philosophies, generation after generation of rebellion, and technological advancements, Painting as a medium has remained firmly steadfast to the definition of what it pertains to be. Painting is a pigment spread across a flat surface, be it canvas, panel, wall or ceiling. This stodginess is widespread and in some cases radical. Some would even go so far as to say if the paint were to become too sculptural, then the painting is no longer a painting, it has crossed the line. Painting has sequestered itself off.

No other medium is as strict or bullheaded. Photography and film have both been shown in three dimensions and neither has lost its ability to be called photography of film. Sculpture has outgrown the pedestal filling rooms as installations and environments, filling landscapes as land art. All have embraced technology, and all have mixed and mingled…none of which worry so much when they begin to become something else. Which is ironic for a medium that for millennia has attempted to be something else.

When I first approached the Blue House about curating, I wanted to do a painting show. I am not a painter, I’m actually quite terrible at it. It is a mystery to me. I can draw, and I can paint badly, and I admire those who can do it well, so I believe this was what was initially compelling. I eventually found myself looking for the sort of paintings I would make, and immediately found myself on the fringes, exploring the blurred lines of the map between states, and that is where this idea was born.

I found a photographer who spray painted objects, photographed them, fake-spray painted them in photoshop, printed them and spray painted them some more. I found an installation artists whose work looked like 3D Joan Miro paintings. A photographer who was homogenizing landscapes with colored chalk with a fire extinguisher. A painter using a CNC machine to cut his sketches out of plywood. And finally, I set out and found someone who called themselves a painter, but didn’t make paintings.

This show is about the belief that painting can exist outside of the canvas, off of the wall, within the space. This show is about the belief that painting can exist without paint.

Featuring the works of:

Alicia Little
Aaron Hegert
Thomas Albdorf
William Potter
Greg Swiger


Show dates: December 6th-31st 2014