The bold abstracts created by gallery newcomer Greg Day toe the line between painting and sculpture. Viewed online, the three-dimensional nature of his work is not obvious, but his signature grids and strong elemental shapes offer evidence of his interest in line and form—and of his training as an architect.
Day appropriately describes himself as a “builder” of paintings; like a house constructed to withstand the elements, they are composed of multiple layers sealed together. “I’ll do an under painting, and then use epoxy resin to glue an acrylic sheet down, and do another layer of paint and then another layer of acrylic sheet and then another layer and cover that with two-part epoxy resin,” he says.
Instead of easels, Day’s studio in Bath has tables in various sizes, where he works on panels of wood or zinc. Even when he paints on canvas, the fabric is usually attached to a panel to provide a solid backing. The horizontal plane is critical to his technique. It allows him to use droppers to add India ink, a favorite medium, and to apply acrylics with a putty knife. “There’s also a lot of sanding that happens,” he says. “I put paint down and I sand it off; I put pigment on and sand it off. I have to have that hard surface to work on.”
Day has used a grid to anchor his work for about 15 years. While in some of his paintings the grid reminds me of fencing or wire, his reference is a musical staff. Laying down a sketch of grid lines is the first step of his process, but the lines get painted last, which gives the viewer the sense that you are looking through the grid at the rest of the composition. He often works on 16”x 12” panels, and will bolt two or more together if he wants a larger piece. This technique conveys his core concept, “my fascination with an infinite line that goes in all directions, and the painting never ends.” For his latest series, “I have a goal of how many I want to do, and I also want to have a secondary grid that ties them all together even though they won’t be touching each other—an overriding line that will connect them.” He rarely frames his work because to do so interrupts the line.
Although they work in entirely different media, Day cites Richard Serra, the California sculptor known for his massive, site-specific pieces often made of steel, as someone whose work he admires. Similar to Serra, whose Torqued Ellipses pieces make “solid metal appear as malleable as felt,” according to guggenheim.org, Day manipulates two-dimensional materials—paint and ink—to appear three-dimensional. This comparison is mine, however; Day insists that Serra’s work “doesn’t really relate to mine at all,” a statement that reflects his insistence on standing alone as an artist. “I always thought that people should have their own definition of art. Part of my definition is that I have to always be trying to create something that’s never been created before. Not repeating myself, trying not to repeat anyone else.”
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