The figures in my paintings are caught in reflection both literal and figurative.
Reflection inherently abstracts the figure and creates a balance between the relativistic distortion of inner thoughts and the physical distortion of a mirrored or reflected image. Tension arises where the reflections meet, pulling in opposite directions as the figures freeze in a moment of contemplation, caught between looking forward and looking back, between past and future (as we all are). There is no line here between the “real” person and the reflected image. They bleed into each other, with equal importance; either they are reverses of one another, literally taking equal space in the painting, or the only source of a complete image of a figure is a reflection. Both the realistically placed painted image and its painted reflection are distortions of each other.
My exploration of these reflections catches many big contradictions: image vs. reality, past vs. future, internal psychology vs. external physics; it brings up many questions that I cannot answer. My paintings are my own way of asking those questions—my own way of reflecting.
About a month ago, the Art Club did its annual trip to the Scholastic Art Exhibit at the VMFA along with a trip to a glass-blowing shop on Lombardy called Glass Spot for a demonstration. This demonstration was really interesting (especially in light of the Chihuly show at the VMFA, which I unfortunately missed, though I got to see pictures). One of the portions of the demonstration that really interested me was the teamwork required to safely make the pieces of glassware. It reminded me a lot of Ai Weiwei’s methods, where he’s not the only one with a hand in his artwork, or Chihuly himself, who, due to the nature of glass-working, has many people working on any given piece at one time. Ultimately, we got to see two pieces made, start to finish, which was really amazing. I’m still amazed that neither of the people demonstrating burned themselves with so much molten glass around!
I talked in my sketchbook this round about how different art movements acted as reactions to the advent of photography, especially Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, and Photorealism, and I’m wondering now what the general attitude in the art world is toward the relationship between painting and photography. It feels like for a long time, the use of reference photographs and especially tracing techniques was seen as a kind of “cheating” in painting. As I heavily use reference photos in my own paintings, I don’t really think this is accurate. If your goal is realism, why limit yourself so much by completely foregoing references? But I can also see the argument of, “if you’re going for realism, why paint at all—use a photograph.” So, what do you all think? What should the relationship between painting and photography be?
sexyimpala asked: also the butterfly effect you did is really amazing.
Thanks! I’m working on it and a few other paintings for my Senior show in June. Between that and APs I’m starting to feel the time crunch—so much for being a second semester senior! :)
The human experience is inherently subjective.
It is a set of moments, feelings, and details that can’t really be encompassed totally or objectively. And from that perspective, all human creation hold inherent bias and distortion—but it is also the only truth and reality that we can experience. This paradox is where I like to make my work: I distort realistic images and create realistic images from distortions, I paint moments in time and in painting them add my own bias. In making art, I distort reality—but I also attempt to understand it.
Last year through my paintings, I began to examine separate interpretations of life: as a game, as a succession of singular moments, or a reflection of the past. This exploration eventually has grown to include the philosophies of the ancients as a means of better explaining the incommensurability of these concepts. In recent paintings, I have addressed Heraclitus’ belief that neither absolute identity nor reality exists from one second to the next—rather, that they flow like a river; Plato’s claim that perception is only a shadow of reality; and Protagoras’ assertion that “man is the measure of all things” and that all people stand at the center of their own universes of irrefutable perceptions that constitute individual realities. With each new painting, I added a layer of my own interpretation to further separate my viewer from the “reality” of the original subject. Finally, my realistic style further blurs the line between reality and perception.
That is because for me, the question is not ultimately one of bias destroying objective reality. It is one of truth arising from that distortion.