Space, composition, existentialism and art history are all major themes examined by Carl Blackledge. Blackledge’s paintings are evocative, conveying a wide spectrum of moods and emotions ranging from stillness to rage, but the paintings also have an analytical quality that beckons the viewer to not only feel the work but to think about it too.
Blackledge’s paintings, often large in scale, are an environment of their own. The objective of each painting is to dissociate the viewer’s contemporary physical perspective and have him enter the terrain of the painting. Line, texture, color and composition create his paintings’ infrastructures.
In his most recent series - 'Carving Up the Past' - Compositions, began as a series of drawings and scribbles on panels inspired by news of the defacement of ancient monuments and relics in Iraq at about the time U.S. military involvement there was winding down. His observation that with the dissolution of an established order came the destruction of its cultural relics led to his investigation of comparable historical moments. He became particularly interested in the defacement of the monumental architecture of paganism that accompanied the rise of Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and Christianity. He writes of the local overdubbing of ancient Mississippi cultures: "western development [...] carves up the history until the angles, lines, and stripes have left only slices of color and undulations peaking from the past through the almost opaque grid of the present."
“With my paintings I’m attempting to expand a space the viewer might be occupying at that time and place. It really is an architectural pursuit. I am trying to achieve the ability to put the emotions of the viewer in a feeling of place instead of observing a place. Ideally I want the art to be perceived as the structure that is supporting the space. Anything can serve as aesthetics in a place. I think Motherwell explained it best when he said ‘Feeling must have a medium in order to function at all; in the same way, thought must have symbols. It is the medium, or the specific configuration of the medium that we call a work of art that brings feeling into being, just as do responses to the objects of the external world… The medium of painting is such changing and ordering on an ideal plane, ideal in that the medium is more tractable, subtle, and capable of emphasis (abstraction is a kind of emphasis) than everyday life.’”
Blackledge was raised in Laurel, Mississippi. He attended Mississippi State University from 1995 – 1999 where he was a member of The Starving Artists Union, an artists collective that included former University of Mississippi Museum Director, William Pittman Andrews.