Opening reception: January 20, 2011, 6-8pm
Salome (detail), 2010
Acrylic, paper and map pins on panel
46" x 46"
This exhibition will highlight 10 new works on panel that includes collage, painting and even sculptural elements in each piece. Starting with small diagrams of ceiling vaults taken from old architectural dictionaries that are collaged, layered and reconfigured, Cullinane builds his composition with rigorous process. The optical effects that result from the process are accentuated by the addition of forms that are actually three dimensional, like map pins, sink drains and wasp’s nests. This conceptual bridge connecting implied or fictional space and physical space forms a tension that is central to Mr. Cullinane's studio practice. These new compositions, which are for the most part circles inside squares, reference mandalas. However, Cullinane claims, “If these are mandalas, they are Faustian.” In other words, his process of visual recontextualization is a search for knowledge similar to Faust’s journey to the underworld in search of truth. This process, “has to do with finding a way to move beyond what I think I know about an image…” to arrive at something more meaningful. Cullinane’s compositions are thus visual representations of that journey and constitute what he has learned from each particular experience of making a painting.
Highly influenced by his favorite poets Dante, Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Mallarmé, Cullinane sees his work akin to language. The titles of each piece are both provocative and enlightening of the artist’s thinking. Titles like Persephone and Lethe are derived from visual events taking place in the works themselves that imply rippling water and bright flame respectively, but also obviously reference classical mythology. Other titles like, The Dozens, reference the number 12 that occurs and reoccurs in the number of each element in the painting 12 ovals, 12 sink drains, etc. James Cullinane collects these disparate elements, both physical and intellectual, into layered, meditative compositions that reference classical mythology, French Romantic and Symbolist poetry, architecture and contemporary popular culture.
James Cullinane received his BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science in 1979. His work has been exhibited locally and nationally. He lives and maintains his studio in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY. This is Mr. Cullinane’s second exhibition with RHV Fine Art.