As the show’s title self-referentially indicates, this exhibition is comprised primarily of works on paper incorporating silkscreened, painted, and drawn elements that continue Sillman’s decades-long examination into the ideological underpinnings of the term Drawing itself. In each work, the artist employs formal dualities from the art historical canon – namely, narration versus abstraction, color versus line, flat versus recessive space, and painting versus drawing – not as a means to a conceptual end, but rather as a method to push these painterly concerns to their extremes. The works on view therefore defy easy categorization, as each one appears to vacillate between overt abstraction and coded figuration, between traditional painting and comic illustration. Yet this simultaneous presentation of dissimilar components does not imply incompatibility. The heterogeneity evident in every composition invites the viewer to resist the pictorial resolutions that one seeks in finished artworks, and instead revel in the liminal space that Sillman creates using her own visual language.
This indulgence in multeity evolves from the artist’s process. Refuting the classic dichotomy of fast drawings and slow paintings, Sillman’s works do not exist within a fixed chronology of creation. Some compositions are made in a day, others in a week, and some over the course of months. What is of primary concern to Sillman is the examination of the hierarchy between media that seemingly exists in artmaking. By refusing to acknowledge any media-specific pecking order within each picture – Are these drawings? Prints? Paintings? Or none of the above? – the artist generates works that encourage an interrogation of art production that is both ethical in nature and engaging in situ.
In relation to their installation at Gladstone 64, Sillman’s excited, overflowing compositions also play with the comfort connoted by the townhouse setting of the gallery. The dialogue between work and location, while seemingly jarring, invites a sense of unease to coexist with the traditional prettiness of modernist architecture. Through this gesture, the artist creates a setting wherein the sensation of comfortlessness is inverted to seem not only allowable, but also desirable.