Negating Iconographies of Painting
(Image Courtesy of the artist)
The recent solo exhibition by Eric Chan breaks new ground in terms of concept and technical consideration for any local painting exhibition. The works featured resemble uncanny, large photographic negatives of enlarged portraitures of canonical artworks from across the centuries in Western Art, suggesting the close relationship photography has with painting, and vice versa. Dutch painter Vermeer used a camera Obscura in his composition to create realistic, perspective observational paintings. As did many other painters in Western Art History who used optical devices to ‘trace’ from real life, as explored by British Artist David Hockney, in his thesis and BBC documentary “Secret Knowledge“. Perhaps this diminishes somewhat the myth of a ‘born’ draughtsman, but should rekindle our interest in realistic paintings, and artists’ technical processes of composition and art-making. This reference to photography is a clue the artist Eric Chan acknowledges his use of digital manipulation to create the black and white negative image before transferring them onto the canvas.
The blackened gallery, and carpeted floor resembles the kind of scale and effect normally reserved for Hayward Gallery (London) block-buster shows, enhancing the appearance of the paintings numerous folds. The mood is solemn, encouraging a quiet, albeit standing contemplation of what Western Painting is – because the monochromatic, negative inversion forces us to look only at the composition, positive and negative space more prominently than the sitter’s (or original painting’s) identity. Perhaps by this looking, we are purged of the need to refer and acknowledge the epitome of paintings lie in the Renaissance and Baroque, and there is still space for painters today, and in Singapore to question their hegemony over the idea of Representation and technical supremacy.
|Another Place. Another time.|
8.0 of 10 stars (I think there’s a catalogue to be published.)
13 – 20 Sep 2007
The Substation Gallery
Opening hours: 11am – 8pm daily
Artist’s Web link: http://www.ericchan.net/