We are pleased to present an exhibiton of recent works by Santa Fe artist, Phil Binaco based on the W.H. AUDEN poem “September 1, 1939” which was written at the outbreak of World War II. Auden writes of a dark time, perhaps similar to our own, but also ends with some hope…seen in his poem as “points of light”.
Phil Binaco’s paintings are not primarily pictorial; they are phenomenological. Bianco’s work is often compared to that of Agnes Martin. Geometry and an interest in meditative abstractions are the logical points of comparison.
Binaco’s phenomena rely on the relationship between the methodical incisions of the stylus, the nebulous flow of shadows through the work, and the reflective pigment across it. Shadows in the depths of the paintings vie with the linear pattern on their surfaces, while shimmering mica disrupts the geometry of the work. Variations to the works’ appearance caused by light and movement are echoed in the gentle irregularities that animate the surfaces and depths of these objects….
— Peter Kalb, Art in America
Phil Binaco’s paintings are not so much objects as events. Rather than simply looking, we experience them across time.
This phenomenon is no accident, given the artist’s contemplative aesthetic and his painstakingly deliberate working process of “painting” with wax. (Binaco refined the formula of an Armenian chemist, combining several kinds of wax with hardeners and softeners that reflect and transmit light.) He begins with specially prepared wooden supports. On these he applies handmade gesso with rabbit skin glue and whiting, which allows wax to penetrate the surface and fuse with the board. Binaco literally builds his paintings with as many as five layers: patiently spreading the wax, heating it, adding pigment—up to five colors, one per layer. Sometimes he blends hand-ground mica with the pigment, which creates subtle reflections. Or he might draw on the surface, so that the incised lines cast shadows onto lower layers of wax.
As a result, there is literally more to what we see than meets the eye. But what we don’t directly perceive has its effect. That dense material composition, whose process we intuit, is what turns Binaco’s paintings into experiences, what makes them time-based art. And then, wax is an organic material with a lifecycle of its own.
— Arden Reed: PHIL BINACO’S ART OF SLOWNESS