• Todd Keyser

    The truth in pictures (drawing, painting, photography, video, and film) has always been suspect in culture and the visual arts. As a result its arbitrary nature is located in language as identified by the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. This discovery allowed artists to forge a new path that tested the assumptions and expectations of media and meaning. Saussure’s investigation leaves the implication that language is autonomous in its relation to reality. This model that Saussure establishes demonstrates ‘that language does not reflect reality but rather constructs it’. The results of such findings have greatly altered much of the aesthetic production of the 20th and 21st centuries.

    In light of these historical events painting is haunted by its own successes. Its not enough to make a modern painting, it needs to somehow address its own complex past and current value.

    How does one re-engage painting in a meaningful way?

    As a painter I want to problematize representation, the role of the image in the practice of painting and the ubiquitous proliferation of images. The use of photographic prints in my work is an effort to rethink and retool the use of the image as a readymade. By using images from the Internet or by taking my own photographs I can alleviate the labor of academic copying, instead my hand can interact with this image in order to manipulate it and release it from its own structural image system. This aesthetic re-assignment of the image establishes a new order and meaning.

    In choosing the cave as a singular image to work through suggests a number of possible understandings of my project as a whole. Historically there are two possible interpretations: cave paintings denote the origin of painting itself. The other reading is that of Plato’s simile of the cave. What is key in understanding how this is interpreted is the use of paint, especially the paintings in this series that are ‘snowed’ out in white paint. The representation of the cave is partially obstructed from view. This brings to mind Plato’s epistemological moment in which another reality is discovered and the other is disputed. This is the most central underling theme to the work as a whole.

    Thus the treatment of these works through a variety of painted engagements attempts to explore this historic and materialistic endeavor through the circular relationship of painting, photography, and digital images. What becomes evident is the sureness of moving the practice of painting forward that engages the developments of the late 20th century while not forgetting the new relationships of our present moment.