Patrick DeJuilio is a relief artist, making paintings that move into the realm of sculpture. His works feel still and quiet, formed by the passage of time. They are stunning renderings of dilapidated barns, houses with exposed drywall, and spaces under staircases. There is something magical about the combination of stillness and the buzz of time each of them hold. I feel very lucky to have interviewed him about his process, and I hope you enjoy reading about it too!
Patrick told me that the effect the pandemic had on his work is less productivity, which makes sense. Whether it’s not being able to find a space to work comfortably and for concentrated periods of time, or finding it hard to sort through the wide-spread anxiety and depression so present right now, it is difficult to be generative!
After inquiring about the pandemic, I asked Patrick how he came to this body of work, and what in particular interests him about making reliefs. He told me “For several years I was a carpenter, and worked with architects, masons, and other tradesmen. I appreciated the details in the buildings that they created. My original ideas for my 3D wall art started with the materials I collected from my job working for an adhesive company. I saw that I could make these materials look like something else on a different scale. Sheets of particleboard could be cut into small blocks that looked like bricks, corrugated cardboard became tile roofing, strips of veneer became siding or flooring. I decided to make my first piece using only these scrap materials and different adhesives our company manufactured. I even used various colors of glue as paint. I have since incorporated paint and plaster.”
Next I asked him how he begins and ends each piece. “A piece will start with a lot of planning. Create an interesting arrangement of shapes that become doors, windows or stairs. I carefully choose materials that have the dimensions and are the proper scale for the composition. Then I build my canvas that is then painted or papered to achieve the appearance I am looking for. I found this to be more challenging than to just paint a flat painting with false perspective. I have a pretty good idea of the finished piece in my mind when I start because it isn’t easy to make changes due to the 3D surface of my canvas that is already established. At times I’ll make color scheme changes, but for the most part the composition is unchanging. Occasionally I'll change the direction I see the light, coming from the window or doorway rather than the recesses falling in the shadows.” His careful attention to detail and naturalism is evident in the final product. It’s impressive that he sets up a formula from the start that doesn’t allow for wiggle room or change in its goal. There’s a lot of skill and control involved in that approach, especially if the colors change halfway through, as color is a powerful compositional tool that can affect depth and flatness in a piece.
Lastly, I asked him about the time aspect of his work. “I find the time-worn aspect is more interesting and has more character. It is more interesting to make things look old in different ways. Time is merely the patina on the objects and places that I depict in my work. Aging is an observation that I have always found interesting, be it people, places or nature. It inspires questions, where is this? What happened here?” I enjoy asking these questions myself as I gaze at his pieces. The empty spaces and worn-down appearance creates a simultaneous sense of emptiness and fullness, giving the viewer an impression of time that moves non-linearly, containing all that happened and all that is left.
If you want to check out more of Patrick’s work, you can browse his website here. We are excited to see where Patrick goes with his work this new year!
Stay safe and healthy,