Thursday, August 9, 2012

reflections (1977-2005)


"long surfboard on a table" (c) 1977 george elasser

What is interesting to me can be seen in this image and in the opening images of EXCAVATIONS. In these images one can find early threads to much later bodies of work that evolved many years later in PARTICLE POOL (1994 to 2001) and LEELA (2005-). This particular image was made in 1977 at a stage where I understood little about the camera's multiple muscles and had not yet explored any serious photographers work. Which brings up an observation of an ongoing debate in artistic circles, is it better to go it alone and work without respect to the past (study art history) or risk recreating the wheel. 
What would (the above) later bodies of work look like, would they have come sooner, would they be more or less effective had the artist not begun his investigation of art history? Without a study of art history would they even exist? 
Here a question is posed rather than an answer given. Art provides no answers but poses many questions, particularly of the unseen (meditate through the layered veils of Cezanne or feel God in Van Gogh). When your ego comes back in control and tells you it sees paint, you must let go again.

Art for me thrives in small dark overlooked corners where discoveries seem fleeting and are hard won but nothing is ever finished or cornered, authentic journeys are necessary but not necessarily seen, and things out of reach always call and flicker in a darkness one can never fully illuminate. If one could we would lay, rest and have lost all curiosity.
When my eyes opened magic & fear or photo 101

excavation 1977-83, b&w 1994-

"sand pattern and bird foot print"  (c) 1979 george elsasser

EXCAVATION (1977-1983) The b&w images in this group is where my work began, most of these have been informed by my early study of Weston, White and Siskind. Many of the devises I learned from these artists I still use to this day and I continue to expand upon and transform in different ways in all my visual work.

"outdoor stairs on rock wall" (c) 2005 george elsasser

CURRENT B&W (1994-) B&W work in progress, begun as early as 1994 and running concurrently and intermittently to present. This group has bits and pieces from each of my bodies of work so for now we will call it a gumbo until each image has more siblings show up. 

It is interesting to note from 1977 to 1984 I worked almost exclusively in b&w. Then from 1984 to 1994 I worked almost exclusively in color. So hopefully this work has extracted many needed tools from those journeys and others.

particle pool

"twisted vines" (c) 1995 george elsasser

FORMAL STATEMENT: It is the journey, the investigation of the overlooked [invitations] in modern art that interests me. Instead of rejecting the established canon, my aim has been to explore and develop new possibilities suggested by it. 

All of these images are [straight photographs] in the sense that they are single exposure, in-camera creations. They are made from fixed positions without camera movement, utilize action freezing shutter speeds, or faster, are printed in the traditional darkroom and incorporate no digital manipulation or enhancement. 

These photographs have evolved from my continuing exploration, artistic assimilation, and utilization of the natural distortions of the photographic lens, such as diffraction and aberrations. In this work I continue striving to create and further explore a photograph more draftsman like in its use of line, gesture, color blending, and transparency that is more directly expressive than henceforth possible. 

Since 1984 (moving from black and white to color) and again even more so in 1992 I have felt an urge to try and deliver more emotional impact through my photography, in addition to it's already existing meditative qualities. In 1992 I began exploring possible relationships between photography and painting, including extensive painting on my own. I have since felt that painting and painters have much more they can teach me about line and color than photographers, so I began extensive study of people such as Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse and de Kooning in about 1996. Most recently, I have actively begun creating rapid drawings, utilizing the spirit of automatism, to further enhance and inform my photographic language. 

This photographic work explores the innate distortions of the lens as an asset, a means of constructing two-dimensional images, which create effects and forms resultant from the simultaneous construction and deconstruction of objects through focus. These effects and forms are enhanced or obscured by specific use of light and color. The resulting images are not experiments but rather explorations. Planes of focus, layering, color mixture and juxtaposition have allowed me to break down the boundaries between foreground, middle-ground, background; I am fascinated when color becomes form and light becomes line.

Exhibition reviews focused on this work.

Future work which Particle Pool affected was
begun in 2005 and is called leela.



"shadow of magnifing glass" (c) 2004 george elsasser

EFFIGIES (2004-) Work in progress, I began in the fall of 2004. These images are created in the camera and not manipulated in the computer. They share a similar spirit to drawings I made that are shown in PHOTOGRAPHER'S PENCIL.What I think these share with the drawings is a deliberately looser approach to making images than I have practiced for most of my photographic career. These seem to present themselves much more like thoughts than any of my other work. 

They are "quick" if I may. Out of all my photographic work these seem to be somewhat narrative, a quality I have not consciously pursued in my work. This work is still very new for me so if there is other stuff going on, I have no handle on it at this time.


"reflection in old glass" (c) 2006 george elsasser

LEELA (2005-) Work in progress, I began in the summer of 2005. These images are seen through the camera, they are not manipulated in a computer. After being involved in this work for awhile I realized this work takes many of the things I learned from images included in PARTICLE POOL and utilizes them in a different way. It is interesting to note these images did not begin until 4 years after that body of work seemed finished to me. 

That body of work seemed to end prior to my visit to the WTC in December of 2001 at which time working on art to me began to feel really inconsequential and unimportant in such a world. 

This newer work similar in spirit, seems to have evolved simply by doing my job and getting back to work but took a number of years to surface. 2002 now seems was a gestation period of little work and much burn out from drawing, painting and photographing heavily prior to that.

incidents & interesections

"snow covered car" (c) 1987 george elsasser

INCIDENTS & INTERSECTIONS (1987-) FORMAL STATEMENT: I explore those points in my visual life where the natural and the artificial meet. The conflicts, tension and ironies thus generated appear to be analogous for corresponding meeting places in our inner lives. Some viewers have remarked on the presence in my work of conflict between thought and feeling, conscious and subconscious, [reality] and [dream]. There are inner boundaries that are implied by the exploration of visual boundaries in my images. Theses images are not [formalistic] in the sense that formal relationships constitute the essence of the works’ meanings; rather, their main thrust is the use of formal visual relationships to stimulate awareness of relationships within ourselves. 

Often I do not understand the point of many of my images until long after I have made them. Part of being an artist is being a sensitive viewer; much of the fun of the process comes from being stimulated by my own work.

photographer's pencil

"drawing of woman's head" (c) 1997-2000 george elsasser

PHOTOGRAPHER'S PENCIL (drawings;1997-2000) This group covers drawings made between 1997 and 2000. These drawings were begun about half way through the making of the photographs in particle pool

One might refer to these drawings as personages. I made them from emotional necessity with the spirit of automatism in heart and hand. As with the paintings they were also made in an attempt to loosen and further inform my photographic language. 

These drawings were made very quickly in sessions lasting 2 to 3 hours in length sometimes longer or until I felt satiated. The sessions produced many drawings per outing, some pieces more successful than others. I drew a lot when I was young and then in college, both eras producing heavily labored efforts leaving only technique. For sure I was now being called by a medium I had mostly an adolescent relationship with. I was finally free as a mature artist and image-maker to reacquaint my self with graphite. 

I believe my thoughts in approaching this work were that speed can deliver emotional impact and polish can remove it. Over the years I had found that photography (a quick medium) had the ability to harness my subconscious thought in images I was seemly drawn to make. I recognized if my strengths as an image-maker were aligned with a medium like photography that I would play to them and trust my instincts. 

Finally I wanted to throw all the rules from drawing class out the window, I didn't mind the endless graphite refuse getting on the piece and along the way decided to use it (in fact court it) to slur and blur lines as a slow camera shutter might. Or as a blues player would bend and slur notes on guitar strings to accent more feeling in a solo. I wanted this work to have a raw power, so even the application of smuge-blurs were applied with quick aggressive jabs. 

I believe as people we do not hold a single visual image in our minds when we think of each other, but a composite of rapid thought-images culminating in a kind-of thought-feeling if I may. 

By the time this project seemed like it was done with me I had easily 1500 drawings to choose from, I'm still doing so. Like photography many sketches and attempts are executed and only a few images out of those efforts truly have a life of their own. 

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