Through each manifestation of my painting, I have been intrigued by the tension between meaning and abstraction. From my earlier work burying archetypal image or actual language beneath rustic studies of light and shadow to my more recent abstract pieces, I ask my audience to find meaning as we might in the wilderness, assured of an intelligence behind this raw mixture of light, shape, color and topography.

  If forced to discuss my work topically, I would say much of it has been an effort to depict a transforming source of light within the painting's composition. This trope culminates with my construction of light box paintings in which an actual light illuminates the painting, composed on Plexiglas, from behind. Most recently I have made monochromatic paintings comprised of distorted rectangles. In one painting they may seem like ritualistic lesions in skin. In another, DNA molecules. In another, simply ghostly absences of color and light.

  Through heavy, perhaps obsessive, repetition I speak to the pain and humor of representation and to the universality of imperfection contained by these awkward two-dimensional figures. I enjoy the relationship between process and form most when building my self-illuminated pieces. Marrying the 2500 year-old tradition of encaustic painting with wood working and electricity engenders a sort of archaeology of light. By applying molten wax over rice paper on Plexiglas and then illuminating it from behind with fluorescence I manage to integrate synthetic man-made materials with primitive techniques. The result is a piece that is simultaneously modern and ancient.

  I hope my work is poetic in that it says no more than it must, insisting we build narratives from its scarcity. I aspire not to a vague abstraction but an economy of representation. Not a joyless contemplation of form but an invitation to imagine.

Scott Reilly

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Scott Reilly


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