In the digital age, groping around on the canvas searching for an image, is no longer fashionable. Paintings begin on the computer screen where shapes and colors can be created, combined, adjusted, and re-adjusted. The process of discovery is hidden behind the the undo-command that gives us the power to correct mistakes and make things the way they once were. In his recent show at NURTUREart, Dustin London presented paintings based on elegant digital drawings, which, according to the press release for the show, he created during countless hours hunched over a computer screen.
When he finally gets to the canvas, London is armed with a clear-cut plan. He emulates the cumulative process of old dot matrix printers, carefully applying small bands of pigment in thin layers. And like a printer, London tries to match the light and space that he has created in the digital realm in the physical world. “Multiple layers of color build to create an internal luminosity reminiscent of the screen, as painting chases the digital aura of the image,” the statement reads, and, indeed, the paintings have a glowing, pristine aura about them.
From one perspective, painters who work slowly and deliberately from predetermined digital imagery have a generous safety net. Messy, obtuse inefficiency gets ironed out of the mix, leaving lovely pictures that suggest what life might be like in an imagined utopia. But their very unreality carries the subtext that the world may never be so perfect. The net result is a poignantly brittle kind of flawlessness that embraces not only the cool comfort of artificial perfection but also the likelihood that outside the canvas it is not attainable.
“Dustin London: Scared of Dying,” NURTUREart, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. October 17 to November 22, 2015.
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