Monday, March 10, 2008

White Out

"Man Holding His Thumb Under His Chin" 44x46 Digital print on etching paper

Ponder not my dear man, for the answers are but hidden in the white out.

"Men and Women Conversing" 72x96 Ink on fabric (heat transfer)

Went to Whitespace gallery for the opening of Fereydoon Family's new show "Stepping Blind" the other weekend.

"Man in Dark Suit and Tie" 24x24 Digital Print on Sintra

The series of portraits are a departure from Family's previous work in abstract painting (previous post here) using a process which responded to his own mark-making and the human fallibility in drawing repetitive straight lines. (Reminds me a little of McNulty's obsessions?)

"Man With Beard and Glasses" 50x37 Digital Print on Sintra

The images are appropriations of "mass produced reproductions of photographs from newspapers, glossy consumer magazines and corporate documents" which Family paints using "Whiteout correction liquid and paintbrush", then photographs the painted images and reproduces then on a much larger scale.

"The Graduates" 84x112 Ink on fabric (heat transfer)

The "Stepping Blind" series continues Family's investigation of human nature and the barrier that is the human body but with more interest in the psychology of people and "particularly in human relations."

In the work, Family writes that he "questions the implications of the inherent limitation and inaccessibility in both life and art of knowing what lies beyond the surface." What I think is interesting about this statement is that the artist's intent in this work is both successful and also negated by the artist's own hand.

Fereydoon tries to avoid getting his picture taken. Stealth measures required.

"A Group of Men and Women" 98x207 Ink on fabric (heat transfer)

While the viewer is left to wonder what the opaque brushstrokes are whiting out I was more distracted by, and curious about, the brushstrokes themselves. Through such a pronounced action of basically obliterating the original figure's identity, the artist's own hand becomes the subject matter (and focal point) and the psychology of the portrait is inferred through the painting style and motion of the artist. In other words, the digital image is an expression of the artist's own reaction to the person photographed rather than the viewer formulating their own relation to the strangers. And the details in the paint handling become as equally insightful, carry as much weight, as any other details in the photographs. The paint strokes begin to form a type of gestural ink spot test that allows the viewer to begin formulating their own interpretation of the invented caricatures, envisioning clowns or hockey masked serial killers or what have you.

Family may have chosen to use photographs of strangers to exemplify this idea that all people are truly mysterious but his required studying of the figures in order to paint over them forms a certain relationship, a type of intimacy, in actively altering their appearance.

"A Group of Men and Women" detail

The show was a great shock to see in the gallery space. These are indeed the largest photographs I have ever seen. Family fully experimented with the printing of the images, using many different surfaces and processes and also played with the scale of the prints in relation to the gallery space. One example being "A Group of Men and Women" (above) which was printed to the exact size of the paneled wall in the gallery.

"Women in Red Dress" 61x37 & "Man in Suit Gazing Out" 61x44 Both digital prints on mounted canvas

The show is definitely worth checking out and Family will be giving a talk about the work on Saturday, March 15th at 2pm at the gallery. Be there or else catch it before it comes down on March 29th, 2008.

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