Thursday, November 30, 2006

Painting and the Lens

(The artist is) a provincial who finds himself somewhere between a physical reality and a metaphysical one…It’s this in-between…this frontier country between the tangible world and the intangible one — which is really the realm of the artist. - Fellini
You can take photographs of something but you never possess it because it’s too fast…there’s something very intense about the experience of sitting down and having to look at it in the way that you do in order to make a drawing of it, or to make a painting of it. - Bechtle

Alec Soth has a good post on painting and photography (my two favorite siblings) and links up to Christian Patterson's musings on Robert Bechtle (opening Dec.1). Bechtle is the best of the photo-realists because he maintians the painting part - meaning, he does not get overly possessed by the optics. He's incredibly disciplined as a craftsman but I think it is his ability in choosing the singular image that really provides resonance and his unerring eye for that California light. The stillness of the works are what makes them edgy.

Soth links also sites a great quote by Luc Tuymans as well as a question posed by Robert Herbert on how long the relationship between photography and painting can last - how much more do they have to say to each other?

It's an excellent question to pose, and seems impossible to answer - but looking at the plethora of artists using photography as a sketch book device and as a medium of fragile ownership, I'm not sure it will ever cease. The two are so linked in how we see our selves and move through and produce space. The relationship connects memory and action. For many painters the solitude afforded by a photographic source is key for their practice. As Barthes suggests, painting can feign reality without having seen it where as in photography there is a super imposition of reality and the past. It is this evidential force which bears not on the object but on time. I think this aspect of time (and light) attracts a painter to the photograph - that somehow the authentication of an object/place exceeds the representation of it - therefore allowing a space for the painter to examine this strange residual time signature by actually getting inside of it - through pigment.

image: KQED via Alec Soth

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