In Speer Gallery January 2 – February 10
Thursday, January 19, 2012
5:00 - 7:00 pm
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Mark Khaisman’s representational works are classically rendered from carefully layered strips of translucent packing tape applied to backlit acrylic sheets. The artist uses the tape as a wide brush, with the light offering shadow and depth. Khaisman’s “paintings with light” don’t aim to capture every detail; it’s more a matter of using light and dark tones to create a recognizable resemblance. The work is exploring the familiar; made of a familiar material formed into a familiar image. Through the familiar, Khaisman builds an image that is as fragile as its material, asking the viewer to recognize and complete the work, stimulating both memory and interpretation in the process.
My works are pictorial illusions formed by light and shadow. Tape allows for images that communicate what I'm interested to do in a very direct way.
My medium consists of three elements: translucent packing tape, clear acrylic panel and light. By superimposing layers of translucent tape I play on degrees of opacity that produces transparencies highlighted by the color, shading and embossment.
There are some qualities of tape that make it unique as an art material: its banality, humbleness and “throwaway” nature; it’s default settings of color and width limiting my freedom; its unforgiving translucency – no mistakes can be hidden; the cold and impersonal attitude that tape surface suggests.
I apply a stripe of brown translucent tape on clear backlit acrylic panel, and if I don't like it, I peal it off. If I peal off less frequently than apply, a chance is that image emerges. The whole process is reminiscent to the red room photo development in the pre-digital era. In a way, as my hands do the job, and my mind is witnessing the appearance of the image, then the only concern becomes to not under- or overdevelop it. I am not aware of every move I am taking, and by the time the piece is done, I don't exactly know how it has happened, so I feel compelled to start a next image to make sure that I can do it again. This is yet another reason to keep working in this strange medium.
Layering tape and even peeling it off gives me strange satisfaction. The only explanation for it I can offer comes from the Eastern cultural perception of the self as an onion, according to which if you peel off the outer layers of the onion you find more layers underneath. It makes you want to peel off more, and more, and more, and when you finally peel of the very last layer you are left with nothing. I do it in reverse: I start from nothing, but the feeling that it is only a different direction of the same process feels liberating and joyful.
To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan’s famous quote, “the medium is the message,” my take on “the tape as the message” could explain the superficial motives, which make up the work. Once the implausible nature of my work is accepted, one can begin to think about the meaning. The latest is born as the result of superimposing material and images chosen to be portrayed.
My works are categorized into two main groups: (1) portraits derived from my own photographs, or classic art and (2) modern mythology derived from the classic movies, mostly “Film Noir.”
On “Film Noir”:
It is a world that satisfies me aesthetically, first of all. I watch lots of old movies, and in my mind they merge into one endless film, from which I pick some random themes disconnected with the context of their origin.
Those themes are just some archetypical situations; figures represent human beings in their symbolic quality, like chess pieces or a still life. They are neither good nor bad but the victims of their situations. Tape then carries a sense of confusion and uncertainty, as if a more final image is no longer possible.