Unreal Nature

April 19, 2016

Something That Was Mine

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:58 am

… “After all this time I’d finally got rid of all those influences and it was really me.”

This is from John Salt: The Complete Works, 1969-2006 by Linda Chase (2007):

… There is nothing didactic here, no lecture on materialism or ecological waste, but rather a meticulous evocation of visual and tactile detail. Aiming for the utmost in impersonal and objective translation of the photographic information, Salt draws and cuts elaborate stencils which he then paints, layer upon layer, with an airbrush.

[line break added] To view one of his paintings is to be struck simultaneously by the delicacy of the paint handling and the brashness of the subject matter. We can hardly relish the sight of the melancholy discards he portrays, yet they are oddly beautiful. … What results from his highly methodical and distancing approach is an uncanny verisimilitude that is at once impersonal and tender, edgy yet elegiac.

… [in 1969] Salt remained disenchanted with the work he had been doing. Years of study and experimentation, of visiting museums and galleries and perusing art-book images had left him feeling that everything he did referenced someone else. The honesty and immediacy he saw in the work of photographers like Friedlander and Winogrand continued to resonate.

[line break added] He wanted to embrace the same kind of unadorned factuality and vernacular imagery but on his own terms. At that point, he made a crucial decision. “I decided to eliminate all the stuff that wasn’t mine,” he said, “and stick to the photograph.” Instead of doing paintings inspired by photographs, he would replicate the photograph itself.

[line break added] “The photograph wipes out art history for you,” he observed in an early interview, adding that the adherence to the photographic information also prevented him from emphasizing one aspect of the image over another and thus distorting the image according to his feelings or preferences.

Salt-A_OK_Auto
John Salt, A-OK Auto, 2002-03

[ … ]

“I wanted something that’s not art. … And at that time I realized that I had something that was mine. It may not be very good but it was original. After all this time I’d finally got rid of all those influences and it was really me.”

[ … ]

… One of the ironies inherent in the work of the Photorealists is that they seek a directness in relation to the visually experienced world through the use of secondary source material and that they achieve a heightened sense of reality by producing an illusion of an illusion. With the use of the photograph, the artist actually gains a double immediacy. The mechanical nature of the camera enables them to achieve the impartiality they seek, while at the same time imparting a compelling sense of the present moment. The medium of photography itself offers the apotheosis of the coexistence of opposing principles — the permanent and the instantaneous.

-Julie

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