Out of the Shadows: Paintings by Jim Giddings
For three decades Jim Giddings transported, hung, and focused lights on the work of others. Throughout his tenure as BMAC’s building manager and art handler, he maintained a painting studio and active exhibition schedule.
In the 1980s Giddings sojourned on islands off the coast of Maine. The work he created there included lushly painted landscapes suffused with summer colors and seascapes dotted with people sunbathing and swimming. Yet close inspection reveals that surface, not scene, was his principal artistic concern. The earliest work in this show is “Red Ocean” from 1983. It is a near-abstract piece created from the ground up; hand-made pulp paper — the painting’s ground or substrate — melds with cloth, powdered graphite, and watercolor, forming a seamless blend of sea and sky.
Giddings consistently gives the entire surface of a painting edge-to-edge interest. His newest creations, depicting clotted, mud-caked roads and woods, are physically and psychologically nuanced, requiring careful observation to unlock their riches. It is an investigation that is well worth the effort. You need to walk into the shadows to step out into the sunlight.
— Mara Williams, Chief Curator
For me, painting is a path to discovery. When I begin a painting I have no idea what will develop. My ideas change throughout the process; the process changes my ideas. For a number of years I have placed simply rendered images — letters of the alphabet, numbers, and the silhouettes of men or animals — in an abstract setting. My surfaces are richer and more heavily worked than earlier work. I apply and remove paint, predominately oil stick, over and over again until I have created an environment suitable for the figures to inhabit. I like to see how they react within their boundaries. My people don’t pose; they simply sit or walk around. I can only guess at their stories.
— Jim Giddings