Deanna Sirlin is an American abstract artist best known for her gestural paintings and monumental installations. Her work prioritizes color. In her paintings, she explores how texture and composition affect color relationships. Through her installations, she dramatically alters physical environments, using color and light to challenge how viewers interact with space. A native New Yorker, Sirlin began her art education at age six at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, now part of the Pratt Institute. She earned her B.A.in Art in 1978 from the State University of New York at Albany (SUNY), and her M.F.A. in Painting in 1980 from Queens College. Sirlin is a Yaddo Fellow, and in 2016 was the Rothko Foundation International Painting Symposium Artist in Residence.
Though primarily a painter, Sirlin adopts any medium that allows her to explore the relationships color has with form, composition and the physical environment. Her acrylic paintings exude a multitude of layers, building to vibrant, complex, textural surfaces. Her process sometimes involves manipulating the surface, allowing natural forces like gravity to affect the paint. Action is important to her mark making. Her brush is an extension of her body. The fluid brushstrokes are often the first elements of her paintings to catch the eye. Sirlin also works in collage and sculpture, creates public murals, writes extensively about art, and has adapted her imagery by using digital technology to create monumental works embedded in glass for windows, covering buildings in the United States, and Italy.
Sirlin has said, “I think in terms of color, density, and the movement of stroke and light.” She endeavors to make work that reflects the way she likes to live. She infuses her work with a search for positivity and lust for life, and has described her paintings as having a particular “pleasure of being.” She is inspired by opportunities to translate her work into new mediums and new environments. Her paintings helped inspire her large-scale installations. In turn, the ways light and space interplay with the work on those projects inspires the way she engages with paint. Digital technology also affects the way she approaches her work. In an interview with Quanda Rodriguez for Catalyst magazine, Sirlin said,
For me, making art is a search for self. With each stroke, I am rediscovering, circling and re-articulating myself. I continually dig deeper…But, most of all, these works express for me the pleasure of being in the world. I am reinventing that happiness in the language of painting.
Exhibitions and Collections
Work by Deanna Sirlin has been shown in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, as well as in France, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Turkey, Latvia, and China. Works by Sirlin are included in numerous institutional and private collections, including that of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, the Mark Rothko Centre in Daugavpils, Latvia, the Shenzhen Institute of Fine Arts in Shenzhen, China, Kunsthaus Nurnberg, Germany, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia.
The artist is represented by IdeelArt.
Deanna Sirlin lives and works on a horse farm outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
All images courtesy of IdeelArt