ISE Cultural Foundation is pleased to present a group exhibition, "observant", curated by Vicki Sher.
The artists participating in observant turn masterful technique toward a new source material: the digitalized image. They all possess brilliant technical skills and a steadfast belief that reproducing the seen world faithfully will provide insights into that world. It is an act of faith for an artist to reproduce a photograph. Here, looking is done with devotion, done methodically, or even a version of religious seriousness, but the result approaches something very opposite to religion. The artists are "observant" and "extremist" in their meticulousness but, despite the religious fervor that those words possibly bring to mind, they offer a decidedly undogmatic course: fidelity to visual fact, specifically, digitalized visual facts.
The power of an attentive hand is ages old, but here has a peculiar contemporariness. These images not only represent our world as it looks today, but also reflect our current technological tools for image-gathering and our specific ways of combining old and new. How we see has changed as much as what we see, so even the basic art tools (pencil, oil paint) have new jobs to do to reestablish their validity.
These artists aim for precision, in a struggle to find a language with which to describe and explain, in all its complicated particularity, the world around them. They take on their subjects with scientific eyes. In all these cases, a technological support underlies the work but, paradoxically, the support is subverted in the end. The computer, the scanner or digital camera speed our fluency with pictures, but these artists take opportunities to slow things down and re-assert the human pace and thus human comfort with slower absorption. In doing so they posit that without full absorption, there is no meaning, or a diminished return from ¡Èjust looking.¡É Translating a photo to drawing, Xerox to paint, etc., re-invigorates the image and at the same time demands of the viewer an act of concentration whose reward is a startling intimacy.