Steuart Pittman: Nowhere/Anywhere, Blankspace Gallery, Oakland, CA

Steuart Pittman, Slanderous Bastard, 2010
Oil on panel
13 x 11 inches

February 5 – March 14, 2010

Within these paintings I compose elemental forms and explore the interactions of colors. By reducing a figure/ground system to its core, I am able to enhance the sculptural qualities of each piece. As a result, I think of these works as painted objects as opposed to pictures or images. I hope to achieve an overall feeling or mood with each piece, but I also value the interpretations of others and will continue to see the meaning of these – and any – paintings as something evolving and unfixed.

While I am clearly indebted to art history and a range of geometric/minimal painters, I am increasingly confident about these formal systems redefining themselves as a force in contemporary art. Minimalism no longer has a single “look,” and in 2010, any number of artists might cite the reductive impulse as a component of their practice. In a culture that is practically defined by its own excess, it seems reasonable that artists would adopt a counteractive visual language.

I am inspired by the eccentric array of architecture in the East Bay, especially where I live in West Oakland. I find beauty in forgotten, overlooked structures, and my paintings fittingly evoke walls, passageways, and windows. I am less concerned with specific locations and more occupied with how archetypal shapes and forms construct a sense of place. The title of this exhibit refers to an offhanded comment a friend made last summer. When explaining her desire to relocate, she said she wanted to move “…out to the middle of nowhere, anywhere.” This specific combination of words resonated with me and seemed at home with paintings that are often anonymous, stark, and quiet. I share that sense of longing for harmony, and in this way these paintings are my own “Nowhere, Anywhere.”

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