Hard-edged is too narrow a term to describe Kellyann Burns’s abstract paintings. For one, the edges of the compositions literally bleed, with stiffened drips of oil paint stretching out in all directions. In some pieces, the line between colors is more Gerhard Richter than Ellsworth Kelly, with the layers of pigment scraped and rubbed away. Burns uses brushes, palette knives, spatulas, and sandpaper to build up her compositions and then systematically wears them back down, leaving behind remnants of her process on each Alu-Dibond panel. The works here hung like candy-colored reminders of the ravages of time.
In her 60-by-60-inch 3:18 PM 9/22/14, five rectangles of color overlap, with a thick bright yellow creeping in from the upper right corner, threatening to blot out the dark green underneath. In the bordering steely blue expanse, underlying layers peek through—exposed, then covered, then revealed again.
Some surfaces have been scoured with sandpaper until rough and transparently thin, fading into other colors. Some are highly polished and almost reflective in their opacity. In 11:03 AM 9/01/14, a lime-green expanse is both, bisected on the diagonal into glossy and matte. Simultaneously vibrant and fading, joyful and pensive, Burns’s paintings are testaments to their own making, and to the inevitability—and potential beauty—of decay.
A version of this story originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 87.