Among other things, photographs are meant to hold a presence. To make a presence last. When I think of photographs from times when they were less easily obtained or made (when there was a material consequence), there was also a kind of priority. They tried to preserve a moment, person, or vision. These moments were to be held apart somehow (as photographs) from the flow of living, to represent particular points/states of life. A frozen presence. Not entirely dead or empty, but no longer living (changing). Something paused, or on-hold, captured in order to preserve it, so that it could perhaps be reanimated at a later time.

Memory works in a different way. It seems closer to a dream, to a malleable and unfixed presence, that moves with you through living. Rather than frozen, a memory image is like water, or lava. I worked with memory before photographs, as it seemed more conducive to the material of paint itself. The unstable, flowing, changing possibilities lends itself to the painted image.

Yet I understood the construction of an image and its tenuous nature more concretely through photographs. An image could be made to feel different if there was slightly more blue or yellow; if the left corner was covered it reminded you of another location; and if you stared long enough, it looked like nothing but texture, shapes and color on a thin glossy or matte surface. How unreliable the image was of holding the presence that it first translated. That it was not held to that original moment made it quite free. And it circulated as itself in a longer time and farther geography than where it had been made.

I think photographic images freed me from needing to be faithful in a painting. Not because a photograph represented and held reality so well (that painting was no longer responsible for it); but rather because it did not. Because an image was free and light. It moved around and changed through time and context. It was activated by whoever looked at it, by what could be seen and recalled through it.

I don’t know if I set out to make a free painting from the start, but it seems like that must have been a strong desire. And that it should be light, expansive, changeable, tenuous, responsive to time (of day) and context, seems equally as crucial.

painting   yellow   fragment   lake   light