The Easel

7th December 2021

“We Carry Our Younger Selves Around”: Gillian Wearing on Life, Art and Time

Well before social media arrived, Wearing was making performative portraits – photographs of people in masks or holding cue cards that describe their thoughts. All addressed her core fascination – who are you? Given her view that people tend to live “in their dreams”, is the image we project who we really are or the person we wish we were – or both? The possibility that her approach will appear forensic is moderated by an evident empathy. Ultimately, she says “everyone is interesting”. Images are here.

30th November 2021

Getting real with Richard Estes

What Estes took from working in advertising – the power of detail, the importance of visual rhythm – is evident in his acclaimed photorealist cityscapes. He paints from photographs, though without attempting a replica image. The difference lies partly in which details he omits. In addition, while showing the “pulsing visual pattern of things”, he includes elements of abstraction. “You always have to have that quality [but] pure abstraction is like having a lot of sound without any melody”.

An architectural survey in search of America

Since the 1930’s, the Library of Congress has maintained a photographic survey of ‘historic’ buildings. A book drawn from this collection chooses mostly vernacular buildings – “urban row-houses, suburban and rural homes”. They are restrained images, “the style of no style” and “unmoored from a particular time”. Yet they “anticipate virtually all contemporary photography of the man-made environment”, conveying a uniquely American sense of emptiness [and] possibility”. Images are here.