Like the color field painters of the mid 20th century, Macca’s compositions are dominated by large swaths of seamless color rendered to minimize any sign of process, such as gesture and brushwork. Unlike his Minimalist forbearers however, Macca’s ostensibly abstract paintings are also representational in that they seek to capture and communicate the artist’s experiences within the surrounding natural or built worlds.
Rather than using the traditional language of form to mimic or evoke visual encounters, Macca interrogates his subjects by translating them into their indexical colors. The colors that appear in this current body of work, for example, are all inspired by a single winter day. While looking out the window of his rural Oregon studio, Macca mixed upwards of one hundred swatches to match the various colors constitutive of the outside landscape. He then numbered the swatches and chose four at random to be used in each of the four quadrants of a square panel.
By using both an airbrush and brush to apply layer after layer of oil and acrylic paints, the area where the colors start to mistily intersect along the composition’s central axis becomes so nebulous that one might question whether the eye is physiologically capable of grasping such a transition. The resulting sense of boundlessness and immeasurability is enhanced by the illusion that the painting continues beyond the frame of the perfectly smooth panel, which itself sits away from the wall as if floating in the ether. For the artist, these manifestations of the illimitable and the universal elicit more “private, existential questions about the ephemeral and the transient.” Within the plane of existence – a space characterized by perpetual movement and expansion – nothing can ever be held in a fixed spot.
Joe Macca was born in Portland, OR in 1970. He received his BA from the University of Oregon followed by his MFA from Portland State University in 1999. In addition to showing throughout the United States, Macca’s work has also been featured in New American Paintings, Artweek, The Oregonian, and The Portland Mercury.