Paul Sutfin


About the artist:

(B. Pittsburgh, PA. Lives and works in the Pacific Northwest.)

Paul Sutfin makes paintings on paper and glass. Their common theme is physical complexity: an inquiry into the precise parameters of physical phenomena such as smoke, screening, friction, separation, and decay. His subject matter is the productive process itself, revealed in the space between physical layers, which embody layered meanings.

Sutfin has two major modes of painting. The first employs smoke (carbon, soot), often wafted by hand against a glass canvas suspended by suction cups. The other uses a large clear screen behind which oil paint is vigorously carved, pulled, and pushed to create an inevitable narrative tension when the screen is finally pulled – at varying speeds – from the painting. Both of these methods distill and record the fine structure of time as it translates to a 2-dimensional surface through a controlled cessation of movement.

His method of heating, cracking, and embedding carbon onto glass creates a crystalline structure which is visible only upon close inspection. From a distance, or when no light is passing through the glass, the structures appear opaque, even mirror-like. Similarly, his method of painting with screens creates an effect whereby the apparent shape and structure of the painting varies greatly depending upon viewing distance and lighting.

At the most abstract level, Sutfin’s work is about abstraction itself, yet it remains illusionistic. It asks us to consider new ways of seeing and encountering physical processes, and through this to begin again the work of creating and viewing paintings.