John Kindness, 'Car-paint portraits'. The works Mr. Kindness will be presenting in this show include three large car hood portraits of contemporary Romans. There will also be a series of studies of 'Ballymun Sisters'. Pamela Crimmins, 'Photographs'. Pamela Crimmins' first solo exhibition in New York consists of surreal, painterly photographs in which the surface of the water acts as a multi-lobed, liquid lens, distorting the appearance of human subjects placed outside the water.
J O H N K I N D N E S S
OCTOBER 9 NOVEMBER 8, 2003
People behave differently when they sit for an artist or a photographer in profile rather than facing the easel or lens. A portrait also takes on a different role when you remove the 'gaze' of the sitter. It is not a form that has been much used since the early Renaissance except for medical or legal applications. Interestingly, sitters asked to adopt this pose show no signs of coyness or self-consciousness; it is almost as if they are 'undergoing a procedure' and not engaging in something intimate and personal. Looking full-on at a face, you can change its appearance dramatically with small adjustments to the direction and intensity of the light falling on it. But a profile always exhibits the same unambiguous silhouette of the person; this is why the police use them.
Two years ago, Irish artist John Kindness had the opportunity to spend some time in Rome on a fellowship at the British Academy. The many layers of history in that city are so visible that he couldn't help looking at contemporary Romans in the context of different periods of their past. He started seeing people with the eye of an anthropologist, and when he came to make images it was the 14th century profile portraits of Pollaiuolo and Piero della Francesca that informed the works. The hybrid technique employed in the portraits involves the use of modern automobile spray painting, etching and traditional oil painting. If the resulting image has a chronological ambiguity about it, the substrate (a modern car hood) places the work firmly at the end of the 20th century.
The works Mr. Kindness will be presenting in this show include three large car hood portraits of contemporary Romans. There will also be a series of studies of "Ballymun Sisters". Last year Kindness was invited to make an artwork for the regeneration of a housing project on the outskirts of Dublin. He asked women living in the area to come with their sister or sisters to be photographed with a view to having their portrait painted for the new civic offices. Kindness set up an impromptu studio and just photographed whoever came through the door---45 in all, from infants to grannies including three sets of identical twins. Although he made an exhibition out of all the photographs, only four were destined to become large car bonnet paintings. Studies for these will be exhibited at Littlejohn along with some smaller portraits of several other faces he was interested in working with.
This is John Kindness' fourth solo exhibition at Littlejohn. Born in Northern Ireland, he currently lives and works in London. Kindness' work has been exhibited internationally, venues including the Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), Institute for Art & Urban Resources, P.S.1 (New York), Ulster Museum (Ireland), Hugh Lane Gallery (Dublin), Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin), National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin), List Art Center (Providence), Douglas Hyde Gallery (Dublin), Kerlin Gallery (Dublin), Santa Monica Museum of Art (California), and The Drawing Center (New York).
IN THE PROJECT ROOM:
OCTOBER 9 NOVEMBER 8, 2003
Pamela Crimmins' first solo exhibition in New York consists of surreal, painterly photographs in which the surface of the water acts as a multi-lobed, liquid lens, distorting the appearance of human subjects placed outside the water. Her work explores and exploits the properties of water, including its ability to refract, condense, and magnify light and to separate the color spectrum into its component parts. Working in pools, ponds, the ocean, and Long Island Sound, she considers the effects that wind, swells, salt, organic matter, and time of day will have on the water. By controlling her relative depth and distance from her subjects and agitating the surface of the water with flippers and hands, her body becomes a human paintbrush that actively affects the image. The pictures that result offer a record of seemingly inconsequential gestures that come to the viewer like memories or dreams.
Formally, the work covers a range of distortion, from slight stretching to near complete blurring of the line between figuration and abstraction. Crimmins' thematic concerns include the loneliness and strangeness of childhood, the distorted nature of femininity, manly interaction with the elements, the dwarfing power of the sea, and pool fun. Having grown up on Long Island Sound, she swam, dove and sailed competitively and spent hours scrutinizing the surface of the water, studying wind patterns and watching for signs of fish. As a teen, she gave up sailing for wind surfing, where the body acts as main sheet, rudder and tiller. Manipulating the water with her own body offers a similar sensation of being completely enmeshed in her work.
Pamela Crimmins began this project in 1996. Trained as a painter, she had pursued her interests in painting, theater, dance, and water sports separately. While playing with a disposable underwater camera, she stumbled on a way of working that united all of her interests and seemed to offer the possibility of bringing photography closer to painting. Crimmins' work violates every principle of underwater photography, in which she has no training. By following her own imperatives, she has found a way to express her inner world. For further information or press photographs please contact Jacquie Littlejohn or Kim Toscano at 212-980-2323.
Image: John Kindness
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