In Late 2019 I began a new series of works that capture my interests in history and collecting. I have picked up photographs and candid snapshots from antique stores and junk shops over many years. As I began to look through them more closely, I noticed certain distinct elements focused my attention.
The photographs that really speak to me are usually of a very candid nature. I am particularly drawn to those images that have an inherent sense of humor about them. That quality might differ from image to image, but the anonymity of the images helps to play up my reinterpretation of their lost original context. I am also drawn to images that subvert our typical view of family pictures. They represent the lively, intangible moments that make life interesting, yet seem so fleeting.
It is in these moments that the viewer can begin to reflect on the idea of memory and our perceptions of it. In the contemporary world it is easy to snap a thousand digital photographs with little regard for most of them. However, this kind of reckless abandon isn’t prevalent in the physical medium of chemical photography. At one time, these images were considered worthwhile to take, even if they are informal or silly. At one time they were the memories of their original owners and therein lies the tragedy of the images and in turn of memory itself. On the day they become anonymous, the people in them cease to exist; they are abandoned and become subject to any manner of outcomes. Ultimately, they face a kind of oblivion; just another unwanted item to be dealt with and thrown aside. Therein lies the ultimate tragedy of life, time and memory. We fade into obscurity as if we had never existed at all. Through my work, I hope to save these lost moments from obscurity and breathe new life into them as reflections of our common experiences.
Through the creation of this body of work, I have taken on a distinct challenge in the creation of these paintings. All the original images are very small photographs that are only a few inches in dimension. In addition to their small size, the majority were also black and white images as well. As such, I consider this body of work a distinct hurdle to the creative process through the difficulties associated with rendering a black and white photograph in a full color oil painting. They challenge how I think about the application and creation of color in the painted medium. Throughout this exploration I utilized a variety of traditional indirect techniques associated with the Master of History as well as some more contemporary approaches to photographic realism. In so doing, I hope to render the images as faithfully as possible while maintaining certain ambiguities of the photographic lens, selective focus, camera flash and blur.