Karla Siegel’s paintings are about watching. Implied rectangles of colored light are embedded within fields of darkness, capturing tenuous images within their frames. A mountain scene dissolves into tints of blue; a portrait comes in and out of focus as it merges in a pool of white. Light saturates and obscures these fluidly painted images, connecting isolated scenes. Like the flickering glow from a nearby television, Karla Siegel’s Screens series is both mesmerizing and alienating.
The luminescent vignettes create the illusion of a blown-out photograph, but the edges are amorphous as if the image is shifting. Not simply stagnant representations of movie stills, Siegel’s paintings remind us that television is transmitted color. The screen projects an additive spectrum, where color is received as light and mixed in eye. The paintings, which must naturally employ subtractive methods, embody an optic contradiction.
By reminding us of the ‘transmitted’ quality of the images on-screen, the artist points to the shared experience of broadcast television. Solitary, but not necessarily alone, viewers are connected through simultaneously received images. Nodes of blue reflected light form a greater constellation. Aesthetically, Karla Siegel does not impose a cultural hierarchy: “To me the blue glow from the TV is not so different than the glow from a Vermeer window”.
Painted from photographs of television screens, this series also brings up questions of reproduction and resolution. The images are many steps away from the original source, the resulting degradation moving towards abstraction. Further and further removed from physical observation, these tangible paintings capture a fleeting, passive encounter. Tapping into our shared – yet isolated – viewing habits, Karla Siegel has found a silent beauty in the inherent contradiction. Her paintings seize moments of contemplation amidst an unending sequence of images.