Friday, January 11, 2013

Degrees of Reality

Damien Loeb
Can't You Take A Joke, 2004
Oil on Linen, 108" x 96"
A painter's ability to accurately represent the 3-dimensional space of the physical world on the 2-dimensional picture plane is nothing to be taken lightly.  It's a sticky business that takes much work to fully understand.  It's trickery.  It's magic.  It's witchcraft.

That concise way of arranging the paint so as to reproduce each subtle nuance of the original source takes patience and understanding.


I've been struggling with that form of realism lately.  I can do it (see below)...but it takes so much time.  And I try to rush.  But you can't rush something like that.  You have to work in that deliberate way, in complete control.  I have such a hard time quieting my mind enough to allow myself to get into that mode, but when I have taken the time to work that way, I've been utterly pleased with the results.  Note to self: chill out and take your time.  I feel like maybe I've ignored that note before.

I love Realism though.  It gets a bad wrap sometimes because it's such a traditional method. In today's postmodern climate, where such importance is placed on the conceptual side of things, I think we sometimes need to remind ourselves of the respect owed to this skill set.  The ability to achieve a convincing representation of reality is increasingly more uncommon, and for those who have taken the time to master that ability - hats off.

Pictured, is a painting by Damien Loeb.  He and I e-mailed back and forth a few times back in the 1990s.  He was one of the emerging golden boys of the New York scene at the time.  Mary Boone had taken him on.  His name was everywhere.  I was in college, trying to find the fast track to being the next Basquiat or something.  Damien did a good job explaining that there is not fast track.  Not from Central Illinois to Chelsea. He explained that if I wanted that life, I needed to move there and struggle and starve.  Before the folks with the money give it up, they'd want to see someone dance for it.  That is beside the point though.  The point I want to make is that he does realism well - really well.  He shows things as they are, but polished.  He was high def before high def was high def.  Don't get me wrong, he also has this creepy cool David Lynch vibe, but it's all still very good.  Check out the gallery on his site if you get a chance.

And next time you stare down something that looks so real you think you could just touch it, and it's really nothing more than paint smeared on cloth, take a longer look.  Drink it down.  Soak it in.  Someone made that image with a brush, and a lot of time, and that my friends is not as common as one might think.

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