top of page

Space Faith

Emil Robinson 

Mark Brosseau

February 8-22, 2018

feb for web.jpg


Space Faith focuses on our respective investigations of space as an experiential medium. We both make paintings whose spaces are meant to be felt out and inhabited, as opposed to simply addressed in a pictorial fashion. Painting these spaces is our way of exploring larger questions about our place – our place within physical space like our body, relationships, or environment, but also our space within a social or psychological narrative. The paintings also operate as a manifestation of the general human space: negotiating the continuum of time, energy, and life. Our spaces are meant to be experiential: they are created using the abstract language of painting so that if viewers ‘enter’ and feel their way through the space, their experience will be beyond the conventional standards of landscape or interior space. Our working methods mirror the viewer’s experience in a way, as we build our paintings in visual conversation, feeling the relationship and energy between different characters in the frame of the rectangle. The conclusion of a painting is related to the conclusion of other natural events.


Emil grew up in a religious family, and this spiritual foundation affects the way he makes paintings. The focus of Mark’s education until college was largely oriented around math and science – he began college as a chemistry major. Those roots in science now dictate the way he handles painting: he treats his practice like an ongoing lab experiment. He analyzes how decisions made in the paintings affect the space, and his next decision is determined by the desired function of the space.


The resulting dialogue shows that a painting can’t effectively function without having some mix of science and the spiritual in its creation; a combination of faith and analysis is necessary.

2/26 2017:


Emil: I think of my paintings as containers that hold moments of spiritual intensity. Like events or forces that are distilled and presented within the context of illusion, rectangle and surface. I grew up in a strict religious family that was also heavily involved in the arts. The tension between the extreme physical and emotional narrative of Christian faith and the restricted lifestyle that religion requires of its human followers always struck me as artistically rich.


Mark: I just shared a document with you that I think will give you some insight into my titles and how I think about making a painting. It’s a list of ‘spaces’. I started it while I was doing my Fulbright in Iceland and it’s grown since. I basically use it as a catalog of experiential spaces. The paintings start with a decision or two, and then I think about the experience that I want the space to communicate - how would it feel if you inhabited the space of the painting? The title comes into play then, and I use it as something to make decisions against. The word ‘space’ is implied in all of the titles.


Mark: I like the juxtaposition of your religious roots against my math and science foundation



Emil: love it

Mark: And despite that difference of foundation, we've both decided to use painting as a way to explore the experiential qualities of space as a way of working to understand the human condition

Emil: I think painting provides the right restriction, something to bump up against. I struggle with faith, painting is like faith because it's nothing until you make it yours. "the experiential qualities of space" interesting... space within a material handicap, right?

weird how when you paint it actually feels like real space in every dimension... even time is in play, and that expands the potential- painting renders space really elastic while seriously clamping down on its literal dimensions

Mark: This is great stuff. I'm going to cut and paste this exchange into our Google Doc. I'm about to watch TV with my in-laws but I'll follow up later tonight.

Mark:  One thing I think we both do is that we don't think about how a painting 'looks'. What's more important is how it 'feels', or how it would feel to inhabit the space of that painting.



Mark: Another thing that has struck me recently is that my goals now are essentially the same when I wanted to be a chemist: I want to better understand how the universe works and how everything relates to everything else, and I want to be able to put what I discover together in a way that I can share that experience with others.

Emil:  that's quite clear! Lucid

Mark: It never really occurred to me before that it's the same journey. Just a different means.

Emil: makes painting seem like a clear journey- thank you

Screen Shot 2023-12-17 at 5.02.07 PM.png
bottom of page