Polly Lanning’s paintings for her exhibition, Parallels, are linguistic objects, visual images loosely tied to concepts and to actual things. She uses the properties of the paint and pigment, the flatness of the surface, and the shape of the support to convey her abstract story.
Each painting consists of two to four sheets of plywood cut, stacked, and fastened together, fifteen to twenty coats of gesso, ten to twenty coats of paint, with sanding at every stage. They become thick and heavy objects with surfaces built up and worn smooth to the texture of fine Formica or aluminum siding. The overall shapes of her images equal the shapes of the flat surfaces of her chosen plywood supports. The designs of her images can be read in a number of contradictory ways. Lanning bases her painting designs on framing devices such as common wooden frames, horizontal or vertical borders, or mounting corners or on support devices such as stretchers, braces, brackets, or corner supports. Most of her images can be read as both frames and supports. These thick and weighty paintings, many with beveled edges, can literally stand on their own in space. Lanning uses muted, subtle colors, not quite green, not quite blue, not quite orange, therefore not immediately referential but still somehow familiar. Her precise bands of colored paint are reminiscent of the clean-edged minimalist style painting of the 1970s. Her paintings reflect the history of how they were made, layer by layer. Lanning’s abstract paintings tell a story. Her process and her resulting works literally frame the memory process, fix it, physicalize it, and render it visible.