“Dear Mr. Saltz” has been organized as a response to Pulitzer-nominated art critic Jerry Saltz’s 2004 Village Voice article, “The Richter Resolution”, which was a critique on the use of photography in painting. Mr. Saltz’s article commented on a discernible movement (or as he argues, “a surplus”), of painters who persistently use photography and photo-based tools as part of their art practice.
The article went as far as to call for a 48-month moratorium on the use of devices, such as projectors, that aid with replicating the photographic image in paintings. He decries such use as "unimaginative", and asserts that photography has become a crutch for too many painters who engage in the meticulous rote copying of photographs that consequently negate the basic allure and power of painting.
The article, as one might expect, provoked heated discussions within artist communities in regards to the meaning of painting and representation in an age of mass media visual saturation. Conversely, Mr. Saltz then calls for the“celebration of artists who find original ways to use these devices”, (our emphasis) to which this exhibition has been organized as a bold proclamation of originality that exists within this particular genre.
Independent curators York Chang and Karyl Newman have brought together eight painters, (from some of Los Angeles’ most cutting edge galleries), all of whom innovatively use photography in their work to argue that photo-based painting is still a vital and important practice.
The work of the artists represented uses digital/photographic means in the service of the analogue process of painting, where concern for representation (and replication) does not come at the cost of a lively and reverberating canvas surface. This exhibition of paintings, along with the written materials submitted by each of the artists, is not about particular styles of painting as much as the relationship between the artist, public, and art critic.