Insightful Times

The highly reflective surface of a painting invites a different viewing experience?

One of the things I’m hoping to be able to focus on more in the coming months is some analytical study of my art practice: what it’s about, where it’s going, and how it is evolving. It’s very difficult to find time for this more theoretical side of work. Most of the time the time I’m either in a planting-seeds-and-watering phase in terms of finding and developing work and project opportunities and ideas, or engaged in executing the opportunities in a frantic series of work phases. Time out to reflect and take stock is rare.

So I was pleased to have some new insights yesterday as I was discussing my upcoming show with the gallery curators after dropping off the work for hanging. There’s nothing more fun than talking at length about your own work with an interested and captive audience, and there’s no doubt that discussions of this sort are immensely helpful in developing ideas and reaching a new understanding about your own practice.

The thing which struck me yesterday is just how important my use of a highly reflective surface has become in recent years. Initially driven by a desire to effectively present digitally generated work, I realised I have been using it more and more for mixed media pieces, and even straightforward  painting.

And it hit me yesterday that there at least three aspects to this surface treatment that are very important. First, from a technical perspective, it is the best way I have discovered for presenting and safeguarding mixed media and large sized paper works mounted on board. Second, from an aesthetic perspective, I like the hard gloss finish which is the only two-dimensional non-IT way digitally created work can be given the depth of colour of a screen image. But third, and most important, conceptually it demands of the viewer an active viewing response. The only way to see a highly reflective image is to move around, to avoid otherwise unavoidable light reflections. I like the way this directly reflects my concern with different viewing perspectives of life in general; you have to see things from all sides to properly get even a starting handle on ‘reality’. Further, the viewer becomes complicit in the work itself. The reflection of the self is slightly disconcerting perhaps, but emphasises the part the viewer must play in drawing out an interpretation of the work.

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2 responses to Insightful Times

  1. I absolutely love this painting! The subject matter, the style and the treatment you have just spoken about. I originally took up photography as a kid so I could capture the things I wanted to have a go at drawing or painting, but I gave up on painting (wasn’t very good at it).
    I really admire those who can paint!

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