Thursday, December 9, 1999
A certain wariness bordering on full-blown schizophrenia has often characterized the relationship between painting and photography.
For as many painters as there were who recognized photography''s role in creating a bridge to modernism for painting, there were those who derided photography as a mockery of painting better suited for dilettantes than true artists.
Simultaneously, for as many photographers as there were who sought artistic legitimacy by embracing painterly subject matter, there were those like Edward Weston, Paul Strand and Alfred Steiglitz who championed the camera''s own aesthetics.
In Painted Photographs, a joint exhibition on an extended run at the Marjorie Evans Gallery in Carmel, photographer Kim Weston and painter Reed Farrington have embraced that dynamic tension between photography and painting to create a new genre that is much more than the sum of its parts.
Drawing upon the vivid colors, bold subject matter and playful garishness of Pop art, the collaborative works feature assorted nudes and beach scenes created in Weston''s studio, incorporating such repetitive motifs as bathtubs, hot dogs, mustard and ketchup containers in a way that would do Andy Warhol proud.
Through the selective application and contrast between the rich impasto of Farrington''s oil paints applied to the fine textural detail of Weston''s silver prints, the images produce a startling yet enlightening effect that evokes a nether world lying between dream and reality.
For Farrington and Weston, the collaboration was not only an expression of their long-standing friendship and admiration for each others'' work, but an opportunity to stretch the boundaries of their respective mediums beyond other artists'' efforts to combine painting with photography.
"Although painting on photos is not a new approach, it''s been taken by many photographers with mixed results," says Farrington.
"Photographers are after the moment of truth while painting is a fluid process. There is a whole group of photographers who take photos with an eye to painting on the photographs, but there are a couple of limitations with that," Farrington adds. "You have a compromised photo taken and painted with a photographer''s sensibility."
It is this idea of image-making as a "process," and the breaking down of traditional barriers that appealed to Weston.
"What comes through and what gives the work its power is people can see both artists, and that is what we were striving for-to keep both sensibilities alive," says Weston.
"So many photographers take the image as so precious, where to me the process is important," Weston adds. "There were a lot of surprises, and [the images] took on a whole new life and made me look at my work in a new but positive way. It was a rewarding surprise."
In addition to the collaborative pieces, individual paintings and photographs by Farrington and Weston sharing common visual themes are also on display.
Weston and Farrington are hosting a "closing" party Friday from 6-8pm at Sunset Center, San Carlos at 8th in Carmel. The show is scheduled to remain up through December.