Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Outdoors, Photography, and Illusionism
This morning when I was making the 9x12 charcoal drawing a jogger ran by, and he said, "You and John McDonald" which I took as a compliment. John MacDonald is a terrific painter located in Williamstown, MA. Later in the day I went to Haley Farm, where I painted the 9x12 oil.
Interestingly, even though both works today were done outdoors, I wanted to quote from a book on the the artist Carolyn Brady, The Watercolors of Carolyn Brady by Irene McManus, which I just finished reading. Brady did all of her outstanding work from her photographs.
"Brady's first rule is to work from camera-generated images. The camera intercepts a reality that lies beyond the reality available to the lazy or prejudiced human eye. In this sense, Brady is every inch the photorealist, expressed in the distortions and illusionism fixed by the camera lens. But she is also, once again, the Transcendentalist, the American Romantic, using the scientifically or technologically established 'real' to extract the metaphysically unreal."
"Photography is one of the keys to her art. Her color photographs (always effortful to make) are her preparatory 'drawings.' she thinks of herself as an 'abstract realist, using photographic illusionism. The photographic image is very powerful illusionism. We know that now, after doing this for so many years.' The strong lights and darks of the photograph; the subtly altered color; the fiercely concentrated close-up focus, the drastic cropping of the almost always random image--all these elements tend to steal up on commonplace reality, to abstract a truth that the naked eye would certainly miss.
Brady is committed to material reality, but she is more interested in illusionism, the intensified reality captured by the camera. At its finest, her work achieves a traffic between everyday reality visible to the average human eye, and a phantom reality graspable only through the lens (or deep meditation), yielding for one tantalizing instant the truth of the substrate."
Brady consciously used photography as a means to pursue the 'reality' behind supposed reality. I like the comparison between meditation and the camera lens.