Painted Paper and Photography

posted by Bridget on 20 November 2013

On Paper #6 by Erin O'Keefe appeared in the FT last weekend and piqued my interest so I investigated further.

There is a common theme to the work of Erin O'Keefe, an interest in the way the photographic process flattens the surface of an image, pulling the elements within the frame into a coherent plane.

She uses this process to look at abstract ideas often presented as ambiguous still lives, and On Paper #6is exactly this. A painted piece of paper, folded and then photographed.

on paper 6

For the series, O'Keefe turned the paper around, shifting the light source to create different recorded aspects of the same object, and describes the results as radically different from each other.

I visited her website to see if this was the case, but I was a little disappointed to find that the repeat undermined the original idea reducing the series to a bit of a gimmick. It was almost as though once you have seen one piece of painted paper do you really need to see it again, albeit slightly altered.

I am slightly uncomfortable with my criticism here, as in principle O'Keefe's work should press all our buttons at Troika Editions. It demonstrates an interested in abstraction; the photographic process; making things to be transformed into something new; photographic expressionism. But there is something just a bit too knowing, perfect, almost glitzy about O'Keefe's work and while I can see it would be popular and attractive to viewers, it somehow lacks an element of surprise; that all important flaw that transforms the crafted into art.

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