David Brody explains his “perspective”

My paintings are not isometric. I use chalk lines (without chalk) to make perspective grids, usually two-point, with the horizon line above the top of the painting. I don’t work out true perspective recession (checkerboard floors, telephone poles), because that would nail down the space.

I can reach for a string whenever I need it to guide a painted line. Verticals can be gotten from a T-square hung along the top. Often I rotate the paintings, and sometimes I add a third VP (though not for any painting in this show). I am lucky to have a big enough studio to fix pretty distant vanishing points that may seem like isometric parallels. For the record, I have used isometric space in other bodies of work: drawings and wall drawings, and also a number of computer animated films, including 8 Ecstasies, which was installed at The Boiler in 2014. [https://vimeo.com/194358451] I also have worked with true 3-D space in animation, and learned quite a bit about perspective (and its limitations) by playing with camera position and focal length.

Second, your parting speculation about slippery slopes. Yes, my way of working is to discover pivot points, where what seemed like one thing turns into something else. Those moments are the revelations that drive the process forward. Any visual inference can be transformed, with some insight, into its opposite — rock into fog; a protruding building into a recessive niche; geometry into geology; living tissue into seawater; foreground into background; solid into void, up into down. A moving subway might just as well be a fixed train on a moving track, as Einstein realized. My paintings are built from such ambiguities and symmetries in the world of appearances, each one of which hits me as a small revelation, both destructive and constructive.

Avant-garde art, for decades, has been about proving that all things are equivalent. It’s a kind of relentless flattening. Does this ambiguity contribute to the erosion of civic truth and common sense? At any rate, most of us are guilty of self-indulgence in practicing an art that is not in fully politicized opposition to injustice. We all have to think hard about this now. I hope there is some worth in trying to make a really good painting –– but there may not be, even were I to succeed. (I’ve already gone back into Sabotage since the show.)

Elliott Green is a really, really good painter. Occlusion, as you point out, is an important part of his tool bag of wizard strokes. For the show we made a video collaboration:


of one of his paintings coming into being. (I took his photos of the stages and set them to music by Anton Webern.)