Out of Bounds: Irregular Shaped Artworks

Joanne Artman Gallery
Nov 15, 2018 7:21PM

Artistic vision isn’t always contained within the confines of four straight lines- sometimes, a concept is a little outside of that box. Shaped canvases and panels not only depart from the typical rectangular or square configurations, but are an unexpected and engaging method for artists to reinvent their painting surfaces with round, oval, and silhouetted shapes.

John “CRASH” Matos, Untitled 1 Untitled 2, Untitled 3, Spray Paint on Panel, 18” x 18” each

In John “CRASH” Matos’ Untitled series, currently on view at JoAnne Artman Gallery, New York, his round wooden panels mimic the rounded shapes of the depicted eyes. Cutting the compositions with decisive slashes of color, CRASH breaks the path of gaze for the viewer, disrupting the continued line and creating a frenetic, unexpected composition. Endlessly playful, the rounded panels not only perpetuate a circular motif, but also successfully integrate personality and wonderment.

Jane Maxwell, Cape Girl, Mixed Media with Resin on Panel, 48” x 21”

Shaped canvases and panels also raise questions about the painting as an object in its own right, as opposed to being representative or illustrative of another person or idea. In this sense, shaped paintings often exude sculptural qualities, venturing into the world of the three-dimensional, becoming its own independent object rather than a visual portrayal.

Jane Maxwell’s Cape Girl is in the form of a woman’s silhouette. Capturing a strong sense of motion, the panel emphasizes the figure’s stride and movement with her cape billowing behind her. Doubling as a sculptural wall piece, Maxwell accentuates the panel’s three-dimensional presence, stepping towards the viewer, the caped woman becomes a figure transcendent of artwork.

Adriana Olivier, Passeig de Gràcia, Acrylic on Panel, 47.5” x 33”

Adriana Oliver’s works are another example of the sculptural presence of painting when in an irregular shape. The silhouette of the woman’s head in Passeig de Gràcia possesses qualities that are modern and reminiscent of the pop art movement, but breaks from convention with its irregular shape uncontained by a rectangular canvas. Ultimately, the woman’s identity and her depiction are reinvented through its unique form.

When considering composition, painters not only have the choice of subject, material, and color, but also the shape of the surface they are working on. Irregular shaped panels and canvases can change the visual experience for their audience by dictating how the viewer’s eye moves throughout composition, how the piece interacts with the wall or room it is placed in, and in revealing a further glimpse of the artist’s personality.

Joanne Artman Gallery