John Pearson at Weekend
Your show, Immediate Horizon, at Weekend is quite wonderful. The cyanotype photograms are like flags, and like paintings, and like curtains – curtains over doorways, perhaps. Remember the movement in 1970s painting that was called Support/Surfaces? Do you find in that work something that speaks of the earth, and maybe about landscape? Those artists’ impulse to let material find its own resting place, to allow a surface to be its own support seems so base to me, so not related to the glorification of a stretcher and frame; without pretense, I think, and thus grounded. (Maybe those 1970s paintings seem gritty to me because the catalogue that I have has only black and white pictures.)
Some of your photos look like slices out of the sky – and if this were true, their bodies would be fluttering in the very material out of which you snatched them: air. Light is carried through/on air, isn’t it? And light is the essence of your photography, right? I mean this not in the way of “Well, duh, Geoff – everything related to visual art depends on light” rather I mean that your photographs document the effects of light – the movement of light over time, the way in which light outlines and splashes around objects. Many of the brilliant white areas have weight, even, and this is a new way for me to think of light that I really appreciate.
Thinking again of landscape, and of light, there is a specificity to the time and place that light hits the earth, isn’t there? Each moment and each site is unique. You have always been aware of this, place is always important in your work – whether it be a cave in Griffith Park, a patch of garden at your house, or a corner of one of Pam’s paintings. These new photographs, in their directness and simplicity, seem to exalt your love of the earth – not by recording a place, but by allowing place to impose on your making. You suggest landscape, John, rather then tell me about it, and this is the true generosity of the artist.
These are very dynamic photographs, too. Of course since I watched you at work, I can picture you running around the landscape, picking up rocks and pinecones, laying out the silk and covering it with a heavy light block, tossing and placing the rocks, folding and turning the fabric over the time of exposure. All of this is grand and comical and earnest, and I am grateful that I got to watch; but what is really exciting for me is to stand before the work, and then to look from one to another, and to recognize the effects of movement in the visual information. Again, I will use the word “weight” to describe the way motion is embedded in your photographs. For things so light as air, your silk banners with their azure and their bleu celeste have gravity, they have the presence of mass though they are surface only.
Like everything I love in art, your photos pay back my looking.
Fondly, and with respect, I am yours,
John Pearson, Immediate Horizon closes at Weekend on May 26 http://www.weekendspace.org/home.htm