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Gary Kaleda

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Lives in
New York City

Works in
New York City


Pratt Institute, 1988, BFA

conceptual, figurative, digital

Artist Statement

Witnessing the birth and growth of the digital age had a powerful impact on my work as an artist. While my formal art training was grounded in tradition, a parallel path developed involving the creation of art with the computer. As technology changed history, my work changed with it and my paintings progressed from mixed media to all digital.

I saw the world become more connected on a global level, but increasingly isolated on an individual level. And within the terrifyingly vast landscape known as the internet, I looked on as an entire culture turned away from face-to-face communication. Intimacy became cybersex, and true identities were replaced by ideal or false personas, yet we still long to connect. These themes emerged in my figurative paintings and continue to inspire my work today.

From a technical perspective, the computer has become my collaborator. Where software allows the ability to simulate conventional painting, it also opens up countless possibilities that never existed before. I use graphic shapes and patterns as brushes. I create, pose and light my own digital models. And I can explore an infinite number of variations with the ability to return to different stages in the process.

Another new element born of digital communication is a marketing device called a Quick Response or QR code. Accessible via smartphones and QR readers, these two-dimensional codes can contain text or data, or lead to a webpage with additional information in multimedia formats. In 2010, I began incorporating QR codes into my paintings.

In addition to blurring the line between art and commodity, QR codes serve many different functions within my work. On one level, they are an extension – providing information to deepen understanding and connection, and allowing viewers to physically interact with my paintings. In some instances, the codes serve as a stamp or symbol of authorship – much like a modernized Japanese chop. I’ve even used the codes themselves as paint brushes, assigning them to a completely different form of utility.

As a condensed digital representation of information (or a message), these codes have a natural place within the language and fabric of my work. The overall result is completely unique.

In terms of digital painting in general, the basic process is that I interpret the world and the computer interprets my input. Ultimately, the final decisions are mine. The paradoxical truth is that the power of digital art, and using technology to make art, will always rely on the human element.  My work is both an example and an expression of this.

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