Paul Corio

New York, New York, USA

My work is principally about color; specifically, the use of carefully mixed sequences of color that create the illusion of atmospheric space and spreading light. I use geometric figuration almost exclusively, although more recently I’ve been experimenting with the use of lettering. The lettering, however, is made from the same geometric building blocks as the abstract pictures.

Color wants very much to be a descriptive property of an object as opposed to an entity unto itself—red will quickly become a modifier of an apple or a fire truck rather than maintain an identity of its own. This phenomenon extends to many strains of abstract painting as well; energetic gestures and overtly biomorphic abstract forms tend to make color jump into the back seat almost as efficiently as representation. Geometric forms are sufficiently abstract to allow color to function as the primary aspect in a picture.

I don’t have a strong interest in purity as it relates to abstract painting, which was the motivating factor of many of the early exponents of geometric abstraction. Where my interest does link up with this mode of thought, however, is in the issue of scale. I like the forms in my pictures to be of an indeterminate scale. A circle is not non-referential in the autonomous, modernist sense—quite the opposite, it has so many references of so many different sizes (the head of a pin, Jupiter, etc.) that it can’t be pinned to any one.

The space I’m painting is quite plainly illusionistic, but the standard identifiers of scale are missing. My picture, then, can be read as literal in size, or a blow-up of something small, or a reduction of something huge. This is how I came to incorporate lettering; it was the only figuration I could think of besides geometry that didn’t suggest a specific size and scale.

The other key component to my work is suppression of hand and surface, again, in the interest of presenting color as the dominant aspect. Gestures, besides courting the type of organic representations that relegate color to a secondary role, also tend to function as a kind of self-portrait, sort of like signing one’s autograph all over a picture. Ideally, I want the viewer to have a strong, and hopefully emotional engagement with my picture and not with me, using the picture as a kind of proxy or stand-in.

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