“In my paintings, I’m interested in highlighting the way we see the world,” says American painter Gregory Thielker. Initially this seems like a simple statement, but when you think about it, it is more complex than it first sounds. He is an artist interested in our perception of the physical things around us, rather than those things themselves.
The title of this extraordinary series – Under The Unminding Sky – reflects this idea. The sky, after all, is neutral, uncaring even – we give it meaning when we look at it and try to understand it.
Greg plays with this gap between perception and reality in his images of road scenes painted through rainy windscreens. It’s hyper-real but not in the way we are used to – all crisp lines and exact shadows. Instead he painstakingly recreates the strange, blurry visions we all recognise from rain-soaked car journeys. You can almost hear the windscreen wipers.
Each painting can take anything between a few weeks and a few months to complete, but Greg has been rewarded with a huge online response to his work.
“I believe that many people recognize this sensation of the rain changing the view into something mysterious and abstract, and perhaps the emotion behind it. For me, these paintings are a representation of the physical world, but of an emotional realm as well.
“I enjoy the process of building up the painting slowly, allowing each shape to emerge and each color to crystallize. But each painting is still a process of discovery and I can only determine if it will be successful at the very end.”
Greg started the series shortly after returning to the States, after a stint living in Eastern Europe.
“I noticed that while I was driving to specific places to paint, I found myself captivated by the roadways and routes I took. The view changes moment to moment – we see the road, the sky and other cars as they move, or stay still in relation to us.”
Having become fascinated by this experience, Greg started driving out to find places that would work for this series.
It might sound strange, but I am just as interested in the bend of a road, or the shape of an overpass as I am in the color of the light.
“So often times, I will return to the same place over and over to find the right moment or moments. I use photographs to document the places, and then combine different photographs to make a cohesive image.”
And although they have been mistaken for photographs, Greg believes they work in large part because they play with the medium of painting itself.
“For me, the intrigue is that these images evoke the the world around us, but are still just paintings, just oil and color swirled onto canvas. It’s my sense that people are captivated by going back and forth between reality and painting.”