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Paul Carpenter

Olivero del Santos

Copyright 2012 Paul Carpenter

Smashwords Edition

tobacco press

1 Death and Rebirth




Paul Carpenter's work from the period around 2005 presents deceptively simple, symmetrical narratives. This work is related to spiritual emergency and death, although these themes are not necessarily apparent on the surface of the work.

And surface in works from this period is paramount. These paintings are expression of paint as covering, paint as an opaque mask. The drama of covering, the act of applying paint as a primary gesture, has been a focus of Western art since the abstraction of Malevich. The workaday expression of simple narrative tropes has been a foundation of American fine art since John Wesley and Roy Lichtenstein. Carpenter's work of around 2005 responds to and builds on these traditions. But it turns away from the austere nihilism of abstraction and the winking irony of Pop, and attempts to picture a semi-mythological narrative.

The stylistic emphasis on flat shapes reflects the simplified, direct appeal of commercial painting throughout the world. Carpenter had spent a significant amount of time in Asia by 2005 and had traveled extensively. This broad international experience is reflected in his work. The point of view of East Asia in particular is seen in the works of this period through the flattened forms of Asian illustration styles. The axonometric perspective typical of Asian painting plays a significant role in much of Carpenter's work.

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