Rappahannock News November 11, 2010

By Thomas Spande

Rappahannock News, November 11, 2010

 Wayne Paige’s amazing pen-and-ink drawings at the Middle Street Gallery present an idiosyncratic vision so compellingly rendered that a skeptical viewer can become engrossed in no time at all.

For though one must at the onset suspend disbelief since all humanoid figures are presented as mere clothespins, one is nonetheless persuaded to contemplate a black-and-white world of wonder so carefully and meticulously rendered that the resulting pictures seduce our eyes and beguile us.These surreal images are made of thousands of precise, hand-drawn dots, each the artist’s painstaking decision, each an insistent molecule in a picture commanding our attention.

If the premise is that we are to be seen as mere clothespins, the viewer then joins these floating clothespin entities to inhabit Paige’s well-composed pictorial world, a stylized landscape invaded and overloaded by binary code (ones and zeros), a place we can conclude is a surreal mirror of our own information-driven world.

Immersed in this infinity of code, the viewer is invited to interpret these detailed landscapes and seek meaning. This is the challenge Paige presents in his art, nowhere better than in a drawing called “The End of the Information Highway.” In this work we see the channeled information on a literal highway dead-end, with a catastrophic pileup of binary zeros and ones, and from this we sense the thrust of the artist’s message: that an overload of information may well produce wreckage. Flying above this wreckage we see winged figures lucky enough to be free of the “code of the day.”

One may thus read these works as a subtle and personal argument against what one might call “techno-pollution,” against what one might argue to be the endless flood of mediocrity that is too much of modern media. Amid our digital games, our endless special effects, our tweets and texts, where has nuanced, patient thought fled? It surely lurks in our meanderings away from blips and screens, toward more patient forms of expression and thought. And it certainly lurks in the mysterious and wonderful art of Wayne Paige.