Paula Scher’s visually dramatic large-scale cartographic paintings of the United States, now at the Bryce Wolkowitz gallery, reveal her fascination with hierarchies of information and how they are so often distorted and rearranged in order to emphasize certain content.
The colorful layers of hand-painted boundary lines, the handwritten place names and commentary on her paintings (some as tall as seven feet) depict the country swirling in torrents of information.
The obsessive details of her unapologetically subjective maps are seductive but disorienting. The viewer is constantly on the move, leaning back, bending forward, walking everywhere in an effort to decipher the installation’s many messages. These bursts of color and words linger in our mind, forcing us to think twice, thrice before the connections made and the patterns established by the different sets of data embed in our brains.
Scher, a master at using type seductively to frame the image and lure the viewer to the text, began painting maps in the early 1990s. Since 2014, she has been concentrating her efforts on America resulting in the works that make this exhibition.
U.S.A., Paula Scher I Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery. Through March 26