Brittany Miller

And I Was a Stranger

August 25 – September 24, 2022

Checklist
Installation Views

From afar, you may not be sure just what you’re seeing, and up close, at first, you might feel the same way. That’s because Brittany Miller’s paintings emerge from shades of striated fragmentation, singular strokes on the canvas that meld together into something altogether more unified. Much like sgraffito, or chainstitching, Miller uses her singular stroke as a differentiator, a means to convey similarities in space much as language creates cohesiveness on a page.

It’s not as if she doesn’t have antecedents: graphically, you could align her with a reductionist like Robert Ryman, while pictorially, she could be a descendant of Hilma af Klimt, who she shares is an inspiration. The power in verticality that is so insistent in The Day Afterwards, for example, shares as much with Ryman as it does with LeWitt, but pause for a moment and her penchant for pattern is even more enthralling. Paisleys and florals emerge from the surface, bringing both object and subject alive. There’s also that hint of Klimt, the swirling lines reminiscent of his Expectation as much as they anchor our focus on the centrality of Miller’s subject.

But these works are as much about that very experience of subjectivity, of the self, as they are about having or finding connections. In Sedge Twilight, we see the same sofa, the same woman, with even just a little bit more ennui. Step too close, and you imagine you might just fall in. Miller’s scale invites viewers to take a step, if not necessarily take a seat, but the reclining figures averted gaze – and the cat’s direct one – suggest that keeping a little more distance is the better approach.

Instead, take a moment to truly see the details. Miller’s true brilliance is in representing the overlooked – the cat’s shadow rising onto the couch, the almost identical treatments of her front legs and paws divided by a fragment of tile, or perhaps parquet floor…and the realization that there must be two light sources in the room, with that almost imperceptible shadow reaching toward the foreground to connect each of us with the cat even more closely.

There are other incredible moments, like the chevron-patterned blanket in I held this little light to myself, or how ambient light from the lamp mirrors what we see through the window. The downlight, again, a color-inversion of the landscape, gold to brown to gold again. Take a moment longer than you usually might, and you’ll find an incredible number of these interconnections, a phantasmagoria of minute details to push and pull us within and beyond Miller’s canvases. Such beautiful geometries; such a sophisticated understanding of space and composition. All reduced to a series of similar strokes, marked as much by their similarity as the significance of their differences.

Perhaps no difference is subtler, nor more reflexive, than how spirituality emerges throughout these works. The halo and the purple and gold gives us pause, its blond hair framing Miller’s subject’s face. Then, I wanted to find a little yellow candlelight in the garden and A little lavender that stares back at you share similar subjects, vantage points, and poses, with a subtle hint of differentiation illustrated by the hands. Here, Miller flips our expectations, flips our gaze from woman to man and back, that same blond halo emerging again to deflect our preconceptions of how we might or can or do see each other rather than an other. Yet never here do her subjects gaze back at us. They’re seeing, searching, reflecting, exploring, experiencing something else. They are, as Miller has shared, at least as much about “alone-ness and solitude” as they are about “loneliness” and “isolation.” And, somehow, Miller invites us in through her complexity in similarity, through her ability to take single fragments, single strokes, and build them together so each is like an atom of her paintings’ beings. Image. Tapestry. Mosaic. Painting. Brittany Miller’s works are each of these, and more. She synthesizes our understandings, deflects, and defies our expectations, and shares these vast and varied moments of intimacy with us all.

Brittany Miller

A halo and the purple and the gold
36 x 48 inches
Oil on canvas
2022

 

Brittany Miller

The Day Afterwards
36 x 48 inches
Oil on canvas
2022

 

Brittany Miller

A little lavender that stares back at you
60 x 48 inches
Oil on canvas
2022

 

Brittany Miller

I wanted to find a little yellow candlelight in the garden
60 x 48 inches
Oil on canvas
2022

 

Brittany Miller

Sedge Twilight
60 x 48 inches
Oil on canvas
2022

 

Brittany Miller

I held this little light to myself
72 x 60 inches
Oil on canvas
2022

 

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