Deanna Sirlin wants viewers to experience painting in a more personal way. Her work ranges from large-scale, gestural paintings, to small-scale collages, to monumental in situ installations.
Formally, it is colorful, textured and abstract. But it is about more than its observable parts. It is about the invisible as much as the visible.
Her overarching philosophy is perhaps best communicated through her installations, such as Retracings (1999), a C-print transparency designed to cover all of the windows of the High Museum in Atlanta. The imagery in Retracings is typical of the idiosyncratic aesthetic Sirlin has developed—biomorphic shapes and gestural brush marks in a dynamic sea of layered, sensuous colors.
But beyond what is conspicuous on the surface, there is something ethereal about the work that establishes a contemplative tone. That feeling is heightened as viewers move from outside the building, where they see an image on a surface, to the inside, where they realize they have now inhabited the work. The effect evolves with the changing light. Ideas about colors, textures, surfaces, lines, and shapes give way to thoughts about atmosphere, space, and shifting conditions.
The sumptuous, tactile imagery pulls us in then something unseen holds us in place, offering a chance to experience both formal beauty and contemplative escape.
This is at the heart of what Sirlin does. The work is about perspective, about opening up to new ways of perceiving, and interacting with the world.