Echoing and inspired by the formal languages of such contemporary painters as Terry Winters, Mamma Andersson and Amy Sillman, Allison Gildersleeve continues to bend the landscape genre into a different language — a painting language — that takes history, memory, and time, and turns them into tangible elements of her landscape. Gildersleeve achieves this synthesis by playing overtly with the positive/ negative shapes offered up by these natural tableaux, often beginning her paintings in black and white as she describes the clear shapes in each tangle of branches or the cross sections of stonewalls. The high density patterning serves a dual functionality: firstly, it flattens the painting, and puts the viewer’s gaze on the warp and weft of her composition; and secondly, it provides the artist with the intricate lacework through which she can weave her high pitch of color.
Color plays a pivotal role in Gildersleeve’s work, and she is not shy about how she uses it. The pinks are unexpected, and shocking. The flat gray creates an unexpected negative space as it helps the composition describe an object. She comments, “I use color to weave the patterns together, create knots of lines that unravel in other parts of the paintings. From time to time, I am using black and white in order to strip down the paintings into pure pattern, shape, and line, and then building back on that platform, bringing back in the wide palette that, I hope, increases that sense of friction and dynamism.”
These paintings are experiential landscapes, ones to be felt as well as seen. I paint these environments as they present themselves to me, not as unpopulated woodlands but as dynamic, ever-changing places thick with anticipation, dread, happiness, calm. While the crux of this work is the notion that over time the presence of human emotion and activity animate a place, human figures are deliberately absent. There is no person or other identity to prevent the viewer from occupying that space with his or her own histories and projections. –Allison Gildersleeve