Curtis Mann Materiality at Monica De Cardenas Gallery, Milan & LUCE Gallery
September 15, 2012
Luce Gallery is opening its exhibition season with the second personal show of the American artist Curtis Mann, who will present a selection of new works simultaneously in Turin and in the Monica De Cardenas gallery
The artist's work emphasizes the artifice of the photographic medium with scenes that are partially modified or erased through a technical process that demonstrates the malleability of the images used, sometimes drawing on scenes selected from internet or sharing these scenes in relation to current situations of historical interest. The primary intention becomes the physical alteration and decontextualization of images, continually forcing a search for the unexpected yet underlying meaning of image itself and finally resulting in an oscillation between photography and painting, the real and the imagined.
Through the use of the image and the surface on which it is printed, Curtis Mann calls into question the affinity of photography as a documentary tool, seriously compromising its presumed ability to transmit the truth. In the process of creating each individual work, the image shifts into less conventional territory, partly as a result of the alteration of flat surface of the photographic paper, which takes on a density and texture.
Recently, the artist's work has focused on the actual use of photographic medium, and in a different way, on creating works of a compositional nature, even touching on their sculptural aspect. The parts of the image that are shown can serve to highlight details that draw the artist's interest. However his artistic development has moved towards a style that makes greater use of the manipulation of the photographic paper, with incisions and compositions that enrich the photographic surface. His attention to different images involving international situations is combined with the desire for a more autonomous and perceptive creation, with fewer references to the past, although his artistic development reveals a continuity of stylistic purpose in his latest work.
With his original technique, the artist draws on the influence of Gordon Matta-Clark, who often deconstructed, perforated or erased whole sections of abandoned buildings, just as Curtis Mann "deconstructs" the materials and images, adopting a method that has the paradoxical results of penetrating and distorting the structure and meanings of the images, through the use of bleach and transparent varnish.
The tonalities of colour remain bright and attractive, taking on a greater incisiveness in the abstract representations. Individual subjects are alternated with grids of photographs that sometimes recall a landscape or a boundless sky, revealing how the artist is skilfully immersed in a series of new themes while at the same time cultivating the dialogue between photography and painting, with the enrichment of whole sections of photographs and with the oscillation between image and object.
The artist's curiosity touches the physical nature of the photograph, almost as if he wishes to probe into its depths through its material decomposition; thus we can see the tears and crumples in his work, or the circles and arches expressed through his technique, in order to reveal his intention to enter into the image, as though seeking to pry into the intimate parts of the medium he is using.