Connor Cullinan

Connors work is about visual perception; it’s a contemporary extension of 1960s Op art into the realm of figuration. The subjects, portraits and still lifes, are created by closely set dark and light lines. These lines are hand-painted in acrylic or screen printed, with both methods often occurring in one painting.

The visual effect of the strongly contrasting lines sets up a subtle illusion of movement when gazed at. This effect suggests the vitality of the human figures as well as the shifting qualities of light falling on them or on still life objects. The illusions of movement (and the phantom colours that are fleetingly present) are symptoms of the brain’s visual system becoming unstable due to conflicting visual stimuli.

These optical illusions are not happening out there on the canvas but inside the brain, at the very edge of vision, where perception starts to disintegrate. The sense of transience and dematerialisation is reinforced by the binary line technique used to construct the subject matter: much of the space between the dark lines is the empty ground of the canvas, which effectively makes the subjects only half there.

The dark lines read as a screen of parallel filaments through which one peers at the ground and as one does so, the subjects appear to dissolve into pure energy, suggesting what lies beneath solid form. The screens of lines also allude to the gratings used in perceptual psychology and scientific experiments into the physics of light, in which rays are shone through vertical slits in a surface.

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