Shade Paintings…The New Moving Pictures!

Paul Kolker is pleased to present Shade Paintings…The New Moving Pictures! from December 10, 2015 through March 11, 2016 at the PAUL KOLKER collection. Kolker’s works and his self-curated exhibitions are founded experiments which test our perception. This show is as much about memory, as in memory fabric, as it is about the performance of moving pictures; paintings programmed to move up and down on roller shades as in Dripcaustic Memoir Noir, 2015, depicted above.

Paul Kolker: Dripcaustic Memoir Noir, 2015, shade painting, 27.5×44 inches

Kolker first studied the normative manners in which we hang contemporary art in 1973, when he, his wife and family moved into their Long Island home and studio and purchased a large scale batik painting which the gallery’s installer hung like a tapestry. Because the canvas had little heft and was draped with wrinkles, Kolker had it stretched on stringers. That, he says, was the beginning of his journey in search of a memory canvas that would return to its unwrinkled and flat state like a woven, muslin backed and weighted tapestry.

As an early adopter, in 1973, Kolker designed a projector screen of coated synthetic fabric which dropped down in front of his stark white abstract painting, ‘screen,’ a pastiche of oil and marble dust on Celotex which still hangs above the fireplace mantle in his library. For nearly 43 years, that 3:4 format screen, and its 2000 successor, the current 9:16 motorized twelve foot screen, have become the inspiration for this exhibition’s experiment.

As a cardiac surgeon, Kolker had access to remnants of synthetic fiber patches, unused and discarded after surgery. The scraps became the materials used in many of his paintings and sculpture. Some were woven and others knitted, fabricated into velure or spun into a cotton candy-like felt. They were used to repair holes in the heart as well as bypasses or replacements for diseased blood vessels. Most of the synthetic fibers were at his disposal as a cardiac surgeon; such as dacron, teflon, polypropylene, polyethylene and polyvinyls of all sorts, including nylon and rayon. Typical of these synthetic polymer fibers is their memory… Or their propensity to return to the original form when they were polymerized. When Kolker used monofilament polypropylene as a suture material, he threw numerous squared knots to prevent their becoming untied because of the fiber’s memory. This so-called ‘memory to return to the straightened state’ is key to the experimental methods and materials used in this exhibition of paintings on window shade fabrics and their display on motorized rollers; shade paintings on roller shades.
Paul Kolker: Dripcaustic Memoir Noir, 2015, shade painting, 27.5x44 inches - © 2015 Paul Kolker. All rights reserved.

Paul Kolker: Dripcaustic Memoir Noir, 2015, shade painting, 27.5x44 inches - © 2015 Paul Kolker. All rights reserved.

Kolker’s research based studies of art as experiment are founded in how we perceive our physical world, which has become our virtual world of pixels, dots, lines and curves displayed in a gamut of colors that can be adjusted to our individual pleasure with a remote. His work reflects this virtual reality of illusions of light on glass; or images on a screen, whether they are the older plasma types or today’s LCD, LED and OLED ultraHD display screens. Moreover Kolker envisions his watching late night television on his motorized drop down flexible OLED display screen from the ceiling at the foot of his bed, as well as in his library. And should purpose, or teleology, make a difference, Kolker says that his conception of his shade paintings, provides a venue for hanging art as lintels over windows in every home, office, hospital; or in museums, for that matter.

In Shade Paintings, the fifty-first of Kolker’s Art as Experiment series of self-curated exhibitions, are three light sculptures and fifteen paintings on what Kolker calls memory canvas of woven synthetic fiber hung on a tapestry rod or on remote controlled motorized rollers; the types used in window shade installations or in projector drop down screens. In addition, there is something theatrical about the movement of the shade painting… like a curtain call which serves as an invitation to view the work as performance art.

Paul Kolker (b. 1935) is a New York based artist with doctorate degrees in medicine and law. He is Emeritus Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at North Shore/ LIJ Glen Cove Hospital, having practiced cardiothoracic surgery on Long Island from 1969 to 2013. In October 2001 Kolker moved his Long Island studio to his current address in the Chelsea art district so that he could produce his works and curate his exhibitions as an experiment in perception. His studio and gallery have together become his laboratory in which the viewer is the measuring instrument for Kolker’s art as a perceptual experiment. Shade Paintings…The New Moving Pictures! is Kolker’s fifty-first solo exhibition.

In Paul Kolker: Shade Paintings…The New Moving Pictures!, eighteen paintings, prints and sculptures are on view at the PAUL KOLKER collection from December 10, 2015 through March 11, 2016 at 511 West 25th Street in Chelsea adjacent to the High Line between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. For further information please call 212.367.7300 or email:

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