2013 “Pictures” exhibition text


Pictures require human presence to come to life, like a jug needs liquid, or shoes need feet. Pictures are really just thin paint on canvas.

Johnathon Franzen said that images are compelling, not because they are so powerful, but because the real world is so weak. We see them in the same way that we see reality, through our mind’s eye. They seize the same parts of the brain. The world also requires human presence to be perceived, the world is also like a jug, an empty shoe.

However, pictures are different in one respect from the world. They are necessarily formulaic, they are reduced and stilled, they are conceits. In that way, they reflect the way we perceive. While we are looking, a picture can serve as a holding place for the noise in our heads, because it is finite. It is as if the formulated picture can ease the stress of  constantly having to formulate thought. A picture is a form of refuge.

There is relief in dwelling in a not-new picture, in embracing the foolishness of the formula, in discovering the beauty of each small detail that is woven into the picturesque whole. And while we are there, noticing the leaves, the clouds, the way the paint has described the folds of silk, perhaps something indescribable can be felt.   

Perhaps a kind of recognition or thankfulness is possible when we stop striving to comprehend. We can look around, and for a short moment find ourselves in a landscape that we always knew was there.