Reviews & Essays
The Paintings and Drawings of Regina Granne
"We always may be sure that every man-made thing arises from a problem as a purposeful solution."

George Kubler
The Shape of Time

In her current exhibition Regina Granne examines the most intractable problem of all, organized human violence—war, in short—and devises works that demonstrate the variety of forms in which our culture has conditioned us to literally see its solution.

Granne finds her material in the graphic notations and images that inform us about world-wide armed struggle: photos, of course, along with charts and maps and flags, but also drawings by children who have been caught up in faraway violence as well as the toy soldiers and paper airplanes of child's play here on the home front. The individual pieces—paintings large and small, and drawings finished to a graphic perfection—seem at first to make an arbitrary group. With closer study, though, we see that each work is built around one or another combination of these informational signals.

The style and the scale of the pieces vary considerably, too, but not in a random way. Each image is presented at an angle to the viewer through a carefully calibrated perspectival system that argues for potential actuality the way an architect's rendering argues for the real building. (Granne draws from tiny three-dimensional constructions glued to maps and charts cut from newspapers). Pigment is used as the building material, for its properties. In "Shattered World," the paint is a blinding substance, viscous and shiny--the essence of black. Or pigment is laid down in clear washes that can stand for far distance or shadow. Elsewhere, color is indicative, like the colors of a map, or slyly symbolic as in the lush blues and money greens that make up the map of the Persian Gulf states. Among these 'adult' solutions that inform us about war are several works that depict it through a child's eyes; here the paint is applied with the joyful immediacy of childish observation.

In their formal play, Granne's images ask to be analyzed despite their collective reference to pain and destruction. And her objectivity is further buttressed by the irony implicit in our understanding that what she depicts are war games, and that how she depicts them depends on internal rules and a strategy all her own. She seems to be facing the generals on their own ground.

- Blair T. Birmelin