London

View of “Philomene Pirecki,” 2013. Foreground: Reflecting White (3rd Generation), 2013. Background: White Wall, Artist’s Studio (11:22, 11:22, fluorescent light, 6-8-13) (detail), 2013.

View of “Philomene Pirecki,” 2013. Foreground: Reflecting White (3rd Generation), 2013. Background: White Wall, Artist’s Studio (11:22, 11:22, fluorescent light, 6-8-13) (detail), 2013.

Philomene Pirecki

Supplement | London

View of “Philomene Pirecki,” 2013. Foreground: Reflecting White (3rd Generation), 2013. Background: White Wall, Artist’s Studio (11:22, 11:22, fluorescent light, 6-8-13) (detail), 2013.

Dominating the first room in Philomene Pirecki’s exhibition “Image Persistence” was a combination of three overlapping individual artworks, together best described as a mixed-media mural. The background work, White Wall, Artist’s Studio (11:22, 11:22, fluorescent light, 6-8-13), 2013, includes about a dozen twenty-by-sixteen-inch photographic posters, each showing one of two extreme close-ups of the artist’s cinder-block studio wall, upon which is affixed a snapshot of the same studio detail, all fixed atop the partially repainted gallery wall. Hanging upon White Wall were two other artworks: Reflecting White (3rd Generation), 2013, a monochromatic white C-print; and a small-scale gray-green abstract canvas, Grey Painting: Text Version 35, 2011, in which the word GREY appears almost unrecognizable, formed in a stylized painterly typography stretching across the canvas, side to side, top to bottom, corner to corner. The lettering’s long, straight, multihued brushstrokes—painted wet-on-wet into the canvas—present fluid streaks of white, which mixes with the grey of the painting’s flat background.

The wall on which these elements were installed was unevenly painted with two commercially produced shades of gray—one bluish, the other more yellow—that mimicked the peculiar variations of white seen in the photographic images of the artist’s shadowy studio wall. This treatment thus fixes and emphasizes the chance results of the infinitely variable photographic process in which endless possibilities can be elicited from different combinations of lighting, camera, special effects, and printing papers. Nearby and in the second room were unframed works from Pirecki’s eponymous “Image Persistence” series, 2013–, made up of photographs derived from a painting that was photographed off a computer screen. Various reflections from the surrounding environment on the surface of the photograph make each version all the more different, as between her camera and the source photograph, the artist has interposed such things as soap bubbles, ice, steam, and semitransparent DuraClear—almost literalizing the “haze” of memory clouding these lost moments.

Literalization, plays on words, and double meanings permeate Pirecki’s art. Misty photographs in combination with the overlaid DuraClear seem to double the blurring effect of the other, as if expressing the same garbled message twice. grey is both spelled out on and literally produced from the muddy, multihued painted surface that, moreover, provides the exhibition’s overall dominant palette. The paintings are literally “edgy,” produced using a straight-edged ruler and occupying the edges of the canvas, like a brushy sort of frame. And the titles of both paintings and photographs are rife with double meaning, with words such as Persistence (both “lingering” and “insisting”), Reflecting (“pondering” and “mirroring”), and Generation (the production of images or of people).

Pirecki’s art seems to occupy that space between the words’ dual meanings—the blank expanse between definitions—just as gray exists somewhere between black and white: in the noncolors of semitransparent materials, or the shadow of a “white” wall, and across the combination of all painted colors. One thinks of the music of John Cage, of the captivating pauses between the decisive blackness of the musical notes, when everything really happens if only we listen closely enough. Pirecki seems to similarly pursue the gaps between time, words, and colors. The lasting impression is of a definitively unfinished in-between state, ceaselessly pulled back into a recent past captured in a painting that vanished when it was sold, or glimpsed in an afternoon’s passing shadow on the studio wall.

Gilda Williams