Deanna Sirlin’s show at Chastain Gallery is a love song to paint and color

Deanna Sirlin, whose “Wavelength” exhibition of new paintings is on display at Chastain Gallery through Oct. 28, has become internationally known for her spectacularly large C-print transparencies consisting of digitally rendered bands of color, overlaid on large windows to alter the experience of seeing, on several levels at once. (Full disclosure: Sirlin is a frequent ArtsATL contributor.)

Two pieces currently on display relate to the science behind the experience of color and to the topic of climate change: “Borders of Light and Water” remains in place in Venice through Nov. 27 in conjunction with the Venice Biennale, and a related piece, “Watermark,” is on view in the Crosland Tower of the Georgia Tech library through 2022. Both works interact with their surroundings in multiple ways, filling the interior architecture with colored light and transforming the exterior scene when viewed through the transparencies.

“Wavelength,” however, returns firmly and spectacularly to Sirlin’s origins as a painter, presenting a 2020-2022 body of work as a single installation. This is further anchored by a collaborative video with Portuguese filmmaker Nuno Veiga that recontextualizes Sirlin’s transparencies; it sets them in fluid motion with overlaid wave patterns resembling the reflections made by light falling on bodies of water.

Credit: Courtesy of Chastain Gallery

Credit: Courtesy of Chastain Gallery

The video fills the larger part of the wall on the entrance side of the gallery, so it’s not visible to the viewer on first entering. What is visible, and unexpected, is a suite of paintings that glow vividly in contrast with the dark grey of the gallery walls.

This presentation of Sirlin’s art conveys in paint the complex emotional effect of her work involving colored light, but of course it’s the other way around here. Her immense transparencies transform the effects originally conveyed by her particular deployment of paint.

At Chastain, though, the scale of her light-filled installations is replicated by transmuting the gallery itself into a vehicle that unites the different sizes of the paintings. Scale matters, but here it matters differently.

And paint matters. These acrylics on canvas all consist of horizontal bands of different colors of paint. Within that limit, however, the effects made possible through the adroit handling of the medium are exhibited in almost dizzying variety.

Thinly or thickly applied, gesturally or infrequently with meticulous flatness, these works are a sort of love song to the glories of paint as a material medium that, at its best, captures all the subtleties and blunt impact of color when it is projected from a transparent source.

The title “Wavelength” inevitably suggests the physiology of color itself, which reaches our eyes in the form of specific wavelengths of light rays.

One way or another, it’s all about light, and how light interacts with matter, whether transparent or solidly opaque.


Deanna Sirlin: “Wavelength”

Through Oct. 28. Free. Chastain Gallery, 135 Chastain Park Ave. NW, Atlanta. 404-252-2927,

Credit: ArtsATL

Credit: ArtsATL


ArtsATL (, is a nonprofit organization that plays a critical role in educating and informing audiences about metro Atlanta’s arts and culture. Founded in 2009, ArtsATL’s goal is to help build a sustainable arts community contributing to the economic and cultural health of the city.

If you have any questions about this partnership or others, please contact Senior Manager of Partnerships Nicole Williams at