Carl Blackledge’s large-scale, expressionistic paintings convey through abstraction the emotive qualities of place. Some of the artists that have most influenced him are J.W.M. Turner, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, and Joan Mitchell. He identifies with Motherwell’s sentiment 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.”
His latest exhibition, titled Carving Up the Past (2015), responded to news of the defacement of ancient monuments and relics in Syria. His observation that with the dissolution of an established order came the destruction of its cultural relics led him to investigate comparable historical moments, in particular, the local overdubbing of ancient Mississippi cultures that occurred by way of infrastructural development.
Raised in Laurel, Mississippi, Carl Blackledge attended Mississippi State University where he was a member of the Starving Artists Union, an artist collective that included former University of Mississippi Museum Director, William Pittman Andrews. He then lived in New Orleans before moving to Oxford where he’s lived for over ten years.