Captiva Florida

Visual Arts: Wryly wrought

Paul Sutinen's Captiva Meditations at Nine Gallery

Late in 2012, Paul Sutinen spent a month at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida. During that time he completed two related series of small paintings, and started a blog. (The blog continues here.) Both the blog and paintings crystallize what Sutinen has done and thought about for quite some time. Which means they are both thought-provokingly serious and dryly funny, all to unmask the processes and objectives of art itself.

Sutinen is exhibiting the first series of paintings, “Captiva Meditations,” at Nine Gallery this month. The fifteen, 12” x 12” clayboard panels of acrylics, ink and graphite are all done in black, white and gray. They follow another exhibition last April at Nine Gallery of the second series from the residency, his “Captiva Suite,” consisting of twelve 16” x 20” panels done with acrylics and in color. Had I seen the latter in a timely manner, meaning with more than a few days left in the show, I would have written about it at the time. However, to now examine the black and white series (a classification of convenience, just as it is for that type of photography, and unobjectionable as long as gray is recognized as the midrange) without including the color work would provide an incomplete assessment.

Paul Sutinen, Constellation of Drawings (Memory)

Paul Sutinen, Constellation of Drawings (Memory)

Paul Sutinen, Memories

Paul Sutinen, Memories

We should also look at precursors, namely his “Constellation of Drawings (Memory)” from 1990, which hangs at Oregon Health & Science University, and a mural, “Memories 1990-2011,” painted in 2011 as part of a group show at the Hoffman Gallery at Lewis & Clark College, both in Portland. We see similar shapes that have echoed over the years in Sutinen’s painting, and although the work has become progressively less structured, the process has become more refined.

Continues…