Friday, November 2, 2007

Close to Home

I finally had a chance to see the Chuck Close print exhibit at the Greg Kucera gallery in Seattle. It is nothing short of extraordinary. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen reprints of his work, of how often I’ve seen the few giant paintings on permanent display at the MoMA. Looking a wide range of his work, collected from various stages of his career, is an enlightening and inspiring experience.

Close is a process junky. His work has been based on the same simple structure for the last 30 years or so. He takes photographs of friends’ and acquaintances’ faces, overlays a grid on top of them, and then reproduces the photos cell-by-cell using a wide range of mediums and techniques. Because Close is astoundingly inventive and obsessively precise, the simplicity of this form gives way to an astonishing range of results. Over the years Close has filled in the grid squares with paint, ink, pencil, paper pulp, thumbprints, string, fabric, collage, and more. Using the clumsiest of materials, he achieves a level of photo realism that has to be seen to be believed.

The show at Kucera gallery is basically a retrospective of his prints. This image of Lucas Samaras is a linocut reduction print – one square of linoleum was cut 8 or 10 times in order to produce an unrepeatable series of “steps” which lead up to a final complex image. Other prints showcase a silkscreen self portrait created with 178 individual screens (the mind reels) and a wood block print made from 80-odd individual blocks. Each piece is a masterwork. Seeing a few dozen on display at once is a tour de force.

The show is only up until November 10. Don’t miss it.

1 comment:

stewed prune said...

I love Chuck Close's project. The structure in his project allows freedom to maneuver in and around the grid. He does it to the maximum degree. Nice post.