Asya Geisberg Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of paintings by Allison Gildersleeve, “Let Me Show It To You Unfixed”. Starting with recycled drawings, photographs, and revisited childhood places, Gildersleeve builds an increasing complexity - and like a visual puppet-master, deftly orchestrates our eyes’ travel in perpetual motion. Rather than a passively-observed vista that reveals itself immediately, she aims to orient the viewer in a specific way. Then she allows the paint to swirl into a deliberate morass, forcing us to constantly lose the thread. Finding parallels in poets such as Wallace Stevens, Gildersleeve fights against a sense of order or stasis, and instead leaves borders undefined, odd juxtapositions of scale, vibrations of lush color and constant mark variation. We see a rock and just as soon have forgotten that cognition, as the patch of grey “rock” quickly erases into paint, movement, dab, or stroke. Often the most clarity is found in an unexpected corner or edge. Gildersleeve self-assuredly exploits our search for meaning, carving her own ever-changing reality.
Brambles, birch, stone walls typical of New England, and piles of dead leaves that act as a constant carpet for endless months, are all subject to her playful exploration. In Fortress, a dark patch of aggressive verticals suggests a wall of tree trunks, a forest beckoning menacingly. It meets the curved boundary of a lighter area with a bouncing jumble of thick brushstrokes. We don’t know if we are looking down or up, or if we are walking into an abyss of giant redwoods or an insect crawling by the underside of a hedge. Fortress domineers and at the same time allows us room to finish the sentence.
Gildersleeve further articulates space in Hide Out, with the proverbial two paths diverging in the woods at the very top of the painting. Half-abstracted vines dominate the bottom, and on the left side, a barely-distinguishable tree stalk is camouflaged in olives and muted greens. The color varies from organic and known to saturated and symbolic. Behind or in front, large or small, positive or negative, flip back and forth perplexingly. Gildersleeve builds not only a space but an emotional state - using the painted landscape as a caress, a choice, an optimal exit, or a claustrophobic lushness. Her experiments with space continue: the dense congestion of Giants, an amphitheater with a central focus in Candyland, the circular movement of Tumult, and the flat hillside abutting the perspectival path in The Day Needs Fixing.
“To fix it is to put an end to it” says Stevens. Gildersleeve starts with the ubiquitous and the known, and ends with the deliriously unfixed. All we are left with are discrete moments of seeming understanding and placement, and open-ended wandering. Instead of fixity, paint’s murky mushy squishyness reigns victorious.