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david gillanders - MAPS







David Gillanders is fascinated by maps, globes, calendars, alphabets, and mathematical notation; all the ways we've found to symbolize, simplify, codify and communicate our experiences of space, time, and ideas. A few years ago in a small Parisian gallery of old prints and documents he found an etching, a celestial map by the 17th century English astronomer John Flamsteed documenting the positions of the stars visible in the northern hemisphere, with the Milky Way cutting a blue swath through the otherwise mathematical image. On the back, in pencil, was written "Petite carte du ciel", Little Map of the Sky. It seemed to him a beautiful and audacious thing to attempt, to condense the endless night sky to a few marks on an eight by ten inch piece of paper. The paintings in this exhibition, though inspired by Flamsteed, are maps of a different kind.

Gillanders focuses his attention on the natural limits of perception and the inevitable imperfection of our understanding of things. No matter how precise our senses, or our codes and symbols, there is always a gap between the world around us and the idea we make of it, and this has always been the starting point for his work. These paintings, careful arrangements of fundamental painting vocabularies (dots, lines and small organic shapes on fields of color), are abstractions that nonetheless invite flashes of recognition. The dots may be signifiers, but if so, of what? Are they cosmic? Microscopic? Atomic? Bacteriological? Radiological? The arrangements of dots and shapes sometimes expand away from identifiable fulcra, at other times they float, ambiguous groupings in pure zones of color. Within the language and vocabulary of painting, these works remain true to the gap between reality and our perception of it. They offer us something but refuse to define it. These are maps without legends.