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David Palmer: Paintings at Clark Gallery

Grace, 76in x 76in Acrylic on linen 2009

On view at the Clark Gallery through February 29th, David Palmer: Paintings features some of the largest works of the artist’s career. If we head back 10-plus years to the explosion of internet media, specialized cable channels, and the supreme domination of strip malls populating the horizon, one can sympathize with that earlier version of David Palmer. There, at the start of his search for a respite in the noise of 21st Century consumerism, he found the ever-present permeation of branding overwhelming, both when scanning his own art, as well as with the world at-large. It seems like a sort of prophecy now; at that time no one had even begun conjuring and recasting their self-image with countless Facebook posts and Twitter feeds yet.


The paintings on display are the largest representations of Palmer capturing his central idea of that time: To create a sacred space amidst an evolving world of increased visual clutter. They contain the extensions of the very limits of his arm—the very limits of gestural line work—as they mark the places he can reach while maintaining his grip on the brush; his command of the pigment. If all painting is autobiography, these are the biggest stories David Palmer has ever told.


Ironically, one cannot consider the expanse of these larger paintings without returning home to their center. Their size highlights the precision and extension required to complete the sweep of their darting arches. Therefore, the torsion and torque found at their—and our—centers, is all the more precarious and precious, undulating at the core.


“The middle of the stroke is what is important,” Palmer says when discussing his initial approach to the line in this series. “The beginning and the end needed to be eliminated. The middle is where the action is. Other painters have explored the end. That territory has been explored—Lichtenstein with his illustration of a brushstroke. But not much has happened in the middle.”


Not much happened in the middle, that is, until that one churning and expanding moment Palmer has captured so vividly in these works. By removing the outer distractions of artistic rendering and providing a sanctuary from the cacophony of disposable culture, he creates an active space where we can consider the simplest aspects of existence: Each of us in relationship to the ever-changing expanse of now.