Off Stockdale Road

January 01, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
Browsing in a local Antique store recently, I came across a Norval Morrisseau painting.  Not knowing his complete works, I was left wondering by the background colour and the forms if it really was his or others.  But his usage of the black outline, almost a colour by numbering style (used by many others) gave me thought on hierarchies in visual works.  Drafting uses hierarchies of line widths and line weights to impart meaning as well.  So I launched into this work while considering it.

    What drives me nuts is that whenever I take a photograph and post it on the web, it never comes near the painting.  So I fear what are people really seeing?
Certainly the colours and hues are different from the painting, hence a shift in the hierarchy for sure, and certainly the scale is different.   Yet I think the real difference between the two mediums (digital and a painting in the raw) is the re-focus ability.  This painting uses a technique Ive seen in Egyptian wall sculptures, where the image is there, but the surface is also covered in markings - hieroglyphics in the Egyptian works, and the paintings surface has line work in the painting. You focus on either or, and the shift reveals the real intent.   But I think every painting has this multiple focus regardless if added expressly or not.  If glazed, then we refocus on the shifts in hues of the glazes  as our eyes slide across the surface.  For even if the painting is two dimensional, it still allows us to refocus upon aspects of it, and not simply read it literally like the written word.  We visually can explore it, in large part by refocusing between the surface and the imagery.  I don't think photography currently permits this - although the recently emerging technology of light fields may change that.   And I think that is in part why none of the images of my paintings displayed here measure up to the original work, they have lost / obliterated our capacity to change focus, and have become works we read like the alphabet, instead of encouraging us to explore and discover by looking yet again.
© GAMcCullough      2014


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