ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present No Destination in Mind, a solo exhibition featuring backlit glass works by Steve Driscoll. The exhibition opens with a reception and artist talk on Thursday, March 28 at 7:00 p.m. and runs through Saturday, April 27.
Although we’re surrounded by it today, little is known about the origins of glass. Historians believe that glass was discovered around 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia – a region now encompassing Iraq, Syria and parts of Turkey – and that its discovery was the accidental result of other processes, such as metalworking. For centuries, glass was a luxury until the Romans began using it for windows around 100 AD. With the expansion of the Roman Empire, glassmaking spread throughout Europe but it wasn’t until the invention of English lead crystal glass in the 1600s that its production became industrialized. By 1960, decades of further experimentation had resulted in the uniformly flat and clear “float glass” that is commonly used today.
The impulse to experiment that created glass also inspired Steve Driscoll’s recent embrace of the material. Driscoll spent the past two years researching and testing how to use glass in some forthcoming large-scale public art projects. “I’ve always been fascinated by how different materials interact with each other, and glass is such a beautiful architectural feature,” he says. “I wanted to see how it could be integrated with my painting practice.”
Driscoll’s paintings already share with glass the qualities of transparency and light transmission. His pieces, comprised of layers of urethane tinted with pigment, already feel as if they carry a light source within them. For these new works, Driscoll created a series of paintings, which are then digitized and printed onto the glass. “The image directly on the glass further mediates the experience of looking, while abstracting the vision of nature,” Driscoll explains.
Driscoll’s images of the Canadian landscape, and the long tradition in which they’re based, almost become secondary to the painterly gestures, which are emphasized as the images move from panel to glass. This move also draws upon the modernist history of the brushstroke. Driscoll’s approach to painting reflects the notion of the brushstroke as a means of personal expression in reaction against the traditional rules of naturalistic representation. It could also be argued that the visual amplification of Driscoll’s brushwork in his latest pieces share the same sensibility of Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstrokes series from the mid-1960s in that they start to read as depictions of painterly gestures.
“Printing on the glass definitely enhances the organic forms, the ebbs and flows of the paint,” says the artist. “It becomes a literal and metaphorical window into the process behind the work.” – Bill Clarke