Monday, September 8, 2008

David Deutsch: Photographs/Paintings

David Deutsch is an artist who has used color photographs as source material for his paintings of houses and other architecture in various landscapes. In recent years, he has also made black and white aerial photographs and exhibited them along with his paintings.

A handsome two book slip-cased set called David Deutsch: Photographs/Paintings from Twin Palms published in 2004 features these striking paintings and photographs.

Deutsch employed a helicopter and a high powered search light in order to make photographs of suburban neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Black and white grainy images, shot at night, illuminate the roofs and yards of homes that, by the circular glow of the searchlight, appear in an atmosphere of suspicion. The language of these photographs is one of surveillance and they are filled with the tension of searching for clues at a crime scene.

The contrast of blown-out highlights and hard shadows that fall away at the edges of the searchlight's illumination keep the viewer's eyes jumping back and forth over the plane of the image. It is not unthinkable that your mind is waiting for something to dart into view from a side yard or line of shrubbery as seen in many police videos of criminals evading capture. In essence, the way we read these photographs turns the natural subject on its head - we look for something that isn't there often bypassing the information that is. These photographs are exciting but not really pleasurable to view.

Deutsch's paintings are the opposite in feeling. The color palette of his oil on linen is delicate and easy on the eye. Illuminated by daylight, the tension from the suspicion of the photographs is substituted for harmony of landscape and tone. Somewhat abstract, the fields of color bring beauty and pleasure of seeing in contrast to the grit and menace found in his photos.

David Deutsch: Photographs/Paintings is beautifully produced and includes a two-part essay by Laurence A. Rickles called Haunts of Assimilation.

David Deutsch: Photographs/Paintings