Painting by Numbers


Charles Atlas ( American, 1958 )

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General Description

Charles Atlas has been a pioneering figure in film and video for over four decades, pushing the limits of his medium and forging new territory in a far-reaching range of genres, stylistic approaches, and techniques. Throughout his production, the artist has consistently fostered collaborative relationships, working intimately with various artists and performers.

In Painting by Numbers, the artist has done away with the vivid colors and performers once integral to his practice, and instead adopted a new visual vocabulary consisting of a monochrome palette and numbers. Upon entering the space, the viewer’s field of vision is surrounded by flickering numerals that swim and glide across the walls, assembling into dense configurations or exploding supernovas. Harkening back to his documentation of Merce Cunningham’s choreography—for whom he served as in-house videographer from the early 1970s through 1983—the visual sequences in _Painting by Numbers _unfold like a series of acts in a digital ballet, with the myriad numbers now assuming the role of dancer or performer.

Excerpt from

Gabriel Ritter, Label text, 2014.