Sunday, November 14, 2010

Surprise and Mystery

Recently, I went into the gallery that represents my work here in Santa Fe. The sales lady greeted me, and then she said, “Oh Steven, I need to ask you questions about a painting of yours." We walked into the room where my large mixed-media work, called Flying, hangs on a wall. This piece has been in the gallery a short while, and because I have been out of town, the saleswoman had not had an opportunity to speak with me about it. “People have made comments about this work . . . please tell me about the figure in the background.” Immediately I felt curious about what people had to say, so asked, “What comments have you heard?” She answered, “They like the piece very much but find the man in the background disturbing; threatening—as if he will do harm to the young woman.” Then she added, “One woman said she would buy it if not for the man in the background.”

I felt incredulous, and aghast. “That is a complete surprise” I said, “because the figure in back is my daughter! There are two separate images in this work, from two different days of photography. I put them together digitally.”

She said, “Someone said the mask is disturbing.”

“She is wearing a mask from Thailand.” I said.

I could not help but feel flustered and also miffed. The work has always delighted me and furthermore, I never intended anything threatening.

A couple years ago I spent time taking photos of models in my studio and had them play with cloths of white fabric as I snapped portraits. The images were made more dramatic because the studio was draped in black cloth . . . even the floor. So when the models moved about under my narrow skylight, I got dramatic pictures.

I put the two figures together in order to add surprise and mystery to the sensual scene, and make it more enigmatic.

How often is art like a Rorschach test for the viewer? Almost always.

To see more of my artwork, go to Steven Boone Fine Art

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