Sunday, November 18, 2012

Back into the Sphere of Contemporary Culture

New Jersey based painter Ethan Sherman is this week's guest artist for our Artist as Collector Series.
Acrylic, oil and spray paint on wood
16" x 13"

I recently acquired "Smooth" by my good friend Nick Repasy at an art auction during an opening reception at the Mason Gross School of the Arts.  I have a cyclical understanding of it because I was present when Nick purchased the printed portrait on wood from a second hand store. The process of taking a painting that somebody else made, owned, sold (or donated), and then re-making it can be seen as an amalgamation of numerous contemporary and historical metaphors for society and culture as a whole. 

The artist began with a black and white image; a dated portrait of a youth and time long gone. Color is a primary "update" for nostalgic media and the soft grain of spray paint on the image is reminiscent of hand-colored photographs from the turn of the century.  When addressing a found object, in this case a finished painting, one runs the gamut of formal and symbolic ideas already present in the work. The haze initiates a divide between the figure, foreground and background while simultaneously placing all of the formal considerations of the work on the same plane. This brings the viewer to consider the textural application of the acrylic and oil paints and their formal or subjective qualities. Spray paint is the strongest medium that suggests a delinquent approach to painting and materials, especially when used to extenuate a stylistically classical portrait.

This work recycles a once relevant image back into the sphere of contemporary culture for digestion by an audience that is subject to an infinite amount of personal and social ideologies. 

The most interesting part of the work to me is its inherent simplicity. It now hangs in my studio. 
Ethan Sherman's work currently
at New Brunswick Art Salon Fall 2012
Alfa Art Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ

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