LaMontagne Gallery is pleased to present In the distance she could see the clear blue sea an exhibition of paintings with accompanying titles by Alisha Kerlin.
Kerlin’s paintings function much more closely to the slippery, meaning-stuffed, ever-evolving nature of language itself. They read like entries in a lexicon, but not so much a dictionary, more like a thesaurus, in which the identity of the central component is in a swirl with its tangential comparative other selves.--- Matthew Newton
A solitary subject hovering over an atmospheric ground often initiates Kerlin’s paintings. This show features a carrot dangling from a stick, a measuring tape, circling vultures, and a watery game of tic-tac-toe. The sentence-long titles are spelled out with individual wooden letters installed underneath the shadows cast by the canvases.
The paintings enact and are made sensitive to the assumed relationship between the painter, painting and viewer.
In “Milo and Otis,” an unfinished tic-tac-toe game floats across a watery ground. Perhaps the artist herself is one of the players, and she invites the viewer to engage directly with both her and the painting by becoming the second player and imagining an outcome.
One’s point of view or position is brought to attention in “Pretense.” A wavering measuring tape stands in as the hypothetical horizon at about 7 feet. These standard units of measure are roughly life sized, however, they are upside down and incongruous with the painterly periphery and scale of the canvas, in a transparent attempt to make something that is not the case appear true.
“In the distance she could see the clear bluesea” is the example sentence in the dictionary for the word “see”. Perhaps the lone carrot depicted hanging from a stick in this painting suggests that meaning is not the treat dangling in front of you. “She” could be the carrot, the viewer, or who holds the stick from outside the frame.
Similarly, “look” is used in the sentence, “They looked up as he came quietly into the room.” Roles reverse as circling vultures anchored over a purplish-green ground signal that something (or “he”) exists elsewhere.
The relationships between the painting, the shadow it casts, and the titles underneath are just as important as the relationships between the painter, painting and viewer are in understanding Kerlin’s work. Seeing a reproduction of a piece does not allow for those relationships to be felt and perceived. It must be seen in person.
Founded in 2007, LaMontagne Gallery is a 2,300 square foot exhibition space located in South Boston on East Second Street.
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