Three works by David Byrd included in group exhibition Blind Field

1969 Gallery presents Blind Field, including works by Matt Bollinger, David Byrd, Gareth Cadwallader, Ginny Casey, Aubrey Levinthal, Enrico Riley and Brandi Twilley.

In Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes mentions something called the blind field. This term refers to the suspension I experience when someone in a film walks off frame and I think they still move in a room or wherever, specifically the continuation of the fictional space projected before me, as opposed to a sound stage somewhere. The idea has lingered in my head for more than 15 years since I first read it and has morphed a bit to make it applicable to painting. The blind field creates a double inside for a painting. There is the painterly or pictorial space, but then a side door through which the imagination can wander. The painting is a fixed aperture adjacent to the blind field, just as the viewer is adjacent to the painting. But the blind field only appears to be just beyond the space described by the painting, when in fact, it is in the viewer’s mind. 


David Byrd (1926 - 2013) spent much of his working life as an orderly at a VA hospital in Montrose, NY. During that time and after his retirement in 1988, he painted images, primarily from memory, of the patients in the psychiatric ward at the hospital. In Man Showering, a figure ostensibly covers his body with soap in the communal baths in Montrose, but the suds and Byrd’s strokes of thin oil merge. As with Riley’s paintings, there is empathy between the artist’s gesture and the act depicted. The man’s arm bends unnaturally as he soaps his underarm. His naked, pale flesh melds with lumps of soapsuds, staying close to the wall behind. Byrd painted on a gray priming and this gives his oils an overcast lighting. At the bottom of the painting, the man’s feet extend down onto this primed but otherwise unpainted ground. In Outer World, Byrd covers the surface with countless small marks and flecks of cross hatching in contrasting but muted color. He leaves just two moments of more solid shape: the white window that the patient looks out of and the V of light where the outside light enters, split by the man’s statue-like face.


Exhibition Dates: November 2 - December 17, 2022

Opening: Wednesday, November 2 @ 6PM-8PM

39 White Street, Tribeca


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November 2, 2022
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