Shape-Shifting “Tectonics” at Proximity

South Carolina painter and Ohio native, Paul Yanko keeps a box filled with scraps of paper in his studio—interesting textures, vintage sketches, and Spirograph drawings from his childhood, each piece with its own unique history.

To start a painting, he digs through the scraps like a toy box, examining pieces with interesting shapes, tears, or textures, guessing at where the piece came from. Before the textural layers of fractured shapes are built up in his hard-edged abstract paintings, these funny little scraps of paper act as the collaged underpinning for a very intimate and considerate process.

Yanko’s work is on view beginning July 6 as Proximity opens it’s third season with an exhibit fittingly called Tectonics.

Over time Yanko’s shapes shift and overlap, the surface multiplies, and the work requires editing. The passage of time allows varying outside interests to accumulate and filter themselves into the work via color choice, composition and technique. If Yanko’s inspirations—from automobiles and furniture design to children’s toys and comics—were pressed into a block, his paintings could be thought of as colorful cross-sections, each influence represented by a shape. Each shape results from a series of decisions which are translated through color, texture, and their relationship to the shapes surrounding it.

The final composition is pleasantly bold, challenging the eye to decipher literal depth from the illusion of form, while also acting as an extension of the artist’s own positivity, skepticism, dedication, and consideration for materials.