Surface

Surface: A series of 8 paintings. The repeated large scale image of a face enigmatically gazes out at the viewer from a number of viewpoints around the gallery space. Disturbing in scale, their presence is also disturbing by implication. The image recalls the idealised beauty of classical painting and marries this reference to the interventions made possible by digital technology. These images have been created using a Digital Painting Machine, which uses a digital image file to generate a ‘painting’ in oils. This computer-automated process has been used to reproduce an identical image over a series of three-dimensional painting supports, each with different profiles. In the process of applying the image to the support form, a visible mutation, or step in evolution, has occurred. The various profiles and curves of the support form do not cooperate with the contours of the face painted on them. The appearance of the face changes. It remains whole when viewed from directly in front however the face bulges, recedes and folds as viewer moves past the work. Each face is modified by the proximity and position of the viewer.

The surface of each work seems painterly, due to the many layers of paint applied, yet relentlessly mechanical due to the process of application. The tiny bursts of compressed air used to push the droplets of oil paint from the paint-head of the machine towards the form have created a slightly pocked, skin- like texture. The result is soft and seductive, yet the eyes know its application is too methodical and regular to be human. The faces that seem at first faithfully repeated are not. Not only do the contours of the support forms differ but the subsequent variations, created by inconsistencies between distance of the paint-head from the canvas, impact the way the paint mixes as it is laid down. Colours change and features blur. It is the relationship between the eight different support forms and the one image that create the point of difference for each work in the series; the physical properties of each support that directly determines the final image. The title of each work refers to the various modifications made to the image by the form.

For more infomation also see: Art New Zealand, Issue 127.
Grant Thompson Making Painting: The Art of Sarah Munro