Sunday, August 30, 2009

What’s the Point?

'Louise Apartments' 2008, 5.5 X 8", acrylic on paper

A question photorealists are often asked and in the silence of approaching darkness on our deserted street, a question I ask myself too frequently about a good many things.

With regards to making a painting from a photograph I can only say that it’s the best way I’ve found to express myself as an artist.

In an age when the definition of art is so broad I’m shocked that knowledgeable people still question the validity of photo-based paintings, giving it only the most superficial analysis.

At my second show of photorealist work in Toronto the first conversation I had on opening night was of the ‘what’s the point’ variety. It still galls me that the man with the question was a successful painter at the gallery who dismissively told me he could produce something similar to my paintings with photoshop and a printer.

By the time I had finished defending myself I was emotionally spent and not much looking forward to the rest of the evening. When I learned he was a ‘stable-mate’ I could have done the little bastard some physical harm!

It’s not always easy being the only photorealist at a gallery.

I don’t often meet the people who buy my paintings but at my last show I spoke with someone who had just purchased ‘Louise Apartments’ and was at a loss to explain why the image affected him to the degree it did.

The loss of words, his stock in trade as an English professor, gave me a feeling of task-completed. I detailed for him, as best I could, the initial encounter I had with the subject: camera in hand, a feeling in the stomach that is akin to dread or despair, to hearing that the news is as bad as you thought it might be.

The point of the whole excruciating exercise being something beyond words or description.