The Residue of Memory
April 26- May 27, 2012
opening reception: Thurs April 26, 6-8pm
Artist talk: Sunday, May 20, 2pm
Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects presents an exhibition of recent paintings by Stuart Shils. The exhibition, “The Residue of Memory,” includes paintings based on architectural impressions of Tuscany and Rome, where Shils lived and taught last summer with the Jerusalem Studio School. The paintings have moved beyond literal depictions of cityscapes and buildings into more abstract, high-chroma compositions, also larger in scale than much of his previous work.
Shils has long been interested in the idea of seeing through screens or filters, and the blurring and abstracting that results. These paintings employ these ideas. Memory itself becomes the screen, so that we are left with just the impression or sensation of the place.
In these paintings, Shils seeks to represent windows into transitory feeling and mood, internal emotional resonances. The paintings reflect, in his words, “the intense sun, experiences with friends in the labyrinthine forms of those towns, the urgent and pungent presence of the past via architectural form…”
Shils works across media, making monotypes, drawings, gouaches, and taking photographs, in addition to painting. In recent photographs, Shils shoots motifs through curtains, screens, and windows. In his monotypes and a recent body of collages he has experimented with greater degrees of abstraction. His new paintings fuse discoveries from these other media.
In Shils’s work, two issues forcibly convene: rigorous perceptual awareness, along with an awareness of constant flux. This flux comes from the instabilities of weather, time passing, light changes, and our own filters of memory and the intellectual process.
Shils describes this Bergsonian consciousness, as it impacts the actual painting experience:
Even when right out in front of things with brush in hand, a million bits of information and fact dancing temptingly and distractingly before the eyes, when turning back to the working surface, it’s the layering, editing and reconstruction of memory that informs compositional decisions… Regardless of whether outside or in the studio, ambition is to stay honed in the visual moment sustaining perceptual unity, even though making the drawing or painting requires the passing of time that often erodes the force of initial impact or memory of impact.
Shils studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in the late 1970s and early 1980s, where he is now a member of the faculty. Seymour Remenick, a student of Hans Hofmann, was his mentor at PAFA, and the two artists painted plein-air cityscapes around Philadelphia together. This painting relationship was the subject of an exhibition at SHFAP in 2010. This is our first solo exhibition of new work by Shils.