… His art, which requires so much careful and methodical effort to create, is based on chance encounters and then instinct piled on instinct …
This is from Patterson Sims‘ title essay to Richard Estes’ Realism (2014):
… Estes‘ use of reflection has been a defining aspect of his realism. In 1968, he wrote, “A thought … about reflection is that you’re looking at what isn’t there — the tactile and the visual reality do not coincide — they overlap. Since all objects reflect — glass and chrome only more so — perhaps you show the ways things look the less you show how they are or how we think they are.”
[line break added] Reflections in Estes‘ art shimmer on the plate-glass windows, metallic storefronts, buildings, planes, buses, subways, trains, boats, water, and other shiny surfaces. These reflections offer fragments of what is behind, beside, beneath, or above the subjects being photographed. They expand and alter space, soften and contort hard edges, switch verticals to horizontals, turn forward to back as they fracture, twist, multiply, and re-present what would be otherwise unseen or unremarkable aspects of the sites, objects, and people in his photographs.
[line break added] Especially in his car reflection paintings, they flip and upend the world above and bring the sky to earth. Adding wit and metaphor, Estes‘ reflections confound and abstract traditional representation as they de- and reconstruct form, space, and perception. Reflections allow Estes to compose and paint abstractly without ceasing to be a devout realist.
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… Going through his photographic images later, Estes reconnects with certain pictures and sets of images, which reinforces his decision to paint them. His art, which requires so much careful and methodical effort to create, is based on chance encounters and then instinct piled on instinct that causes certain images to emerge as subjects of his art.