Souvenirs from the Waste Land
March 11, 2017 – September 16, 2017
Alastair Gordon's practice is informed by seventeenth century Flemish trompe l'oeil painting and appropriates found images from multiple sources to create new references in his compositions on wood panels. He is interested in the potential of this historical language of illusionism to serve as a reference point to examine timely questions of the replication and dissemination of digital imagery. His recent exhibition work, Souvenirs from the Waste Land, includes 18 new paintings inspired by collectors Howard and Roberta Ahmanson's extensive private postcard collection. Gordon often uses postcards as source material and was fascinated to explore the depth and purposeful organization of Ahmanson's collection, which includes over eighteen thousand postcards. As he excavated the collection he identified three loosely defined categories: historic paintings of Biblical themes, artists favored by the Ahmansons, and images of geographic or architectural interest, especially churches. The layered aesthetic of Gordon's paintings is a result of many renderings of the original image, which creates a fictional space between the audience and the source material. The proliferation of digital media is so widespread, that methodical removal of context may not register with the contemporary psyche. The contemporary viewer simultaneously depends on and mistrusts an image; Gordon challenges us to look deeply and to contemplate meaning of representation. Gordon's process mimics and interprets the selective eye of the collector and this questions the viewer's own desire and ability to understand the images we choose to document. His investigation of these fragments of reality question the notion of authenticity, a reoccuring concern in much of Gordon's work. The beauty of the original artifacts transcends our expectations of a travel souvenir and inspires even the most skeptical viewer. A selection of postcards from the Ahmanson postcard collection will be on view to inform the viewer of the creative process and offer a glimpse into the world of art, passion, and historicity.