Introductory Essay – 2020

In nature’s book of infinite mystery a little I can read

Egyptian soothsayerAntony and Cleopatra

Let the Record Show, Saul Bellow wrote, is the slogan of the mass media. It is fanciful reliance on the Record’s supposed objective truth, its value hinged on the verisimilitude of the photographic image or written word. Records permeate and proffer credence but to assume their objectivity is folly.


Art as a record does not claim objectivity, nor does it claim autonomy, that is its happenstance and, perhaps ironically, its truth. Art in its unfixed state becomes the reliable record.

The artist’s impulse to record is an act of confidence; permanence pursued by assurance of place. Their records are not random, they are faithful to their subject and obliged to render honestly. By that I am not inferring visual accuracy, rather, it is the goal to represent what is before them. Even my most resistant student doesn’t aim to compromise their vision. They are the unconscious soothsayers.

Found images simultaneously create and reference. Isolated recognizable features load meaning into new contexts and reinforce existing. The festooned orbs in Ruosi Wang’s Eyes on Garbo are unmistakably Garbo’s (and McCartney’s). Bowie’s coif beards the amorphous seer. James Gu and Isabella Reilly rob the hands and reprise the eyes to create portraits of fractured melancholia, are theirs less true than Wang’s? When did they cease to be a portrait of Garbo or McCartney or Bowie? Here celebrity becomes prescient and focus shifts to astute formal choices expounding on encounter. Who is The Greatest in Louis Jabouin’s striking mash-up of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohammed Ali? Jabouin, cognizant of King and Ali’s related activism, knowingly and magnificently teases the line to amplify their combined shattering heroic achievements.

Eunggyeong Kim’s and Jeslee Martinez’s Cubist Abstractions are pronounced records of inherent sensitivity to light’s movement. Consistent delicate marks beat out rhythmic tone, steadfastly registering what is intangible.

Sasha Rojas meticulously inks into existence the frenetic energy of a Hummingbird’s World. My Luong renders with uncanny exactness keys chained in chalk. Resolution of form arrives through the artists’ particularly chosen medium and accorded execution.

Josee Leylleh’s and Patrick Salinas’ softly willed portraits are the picture of fragility, both look wide eyed at their presumed viewers: self and stranger. Courage rises before folding and then rising and folding again to accepted vulnerability. The incredible difficulty of seeing oneself and the insurmountable task of achieving objectivity is evident.

Nia Condoleone’s Crisp gob-smacks the viewer. Illusory value was up-ended with Manet yet we still visibly exult when we encounter the hyper-real in painting? Alyssa Cortez’s Red & Green Apples nest farouche, in contrast to the other’s roost. More so than apples, it is Condoleone’s decided ease of consumption and Cortez’s subtle tug that is recorded.

Anna by Megan Groll is luminous, represented in essential form and colour. Groll’s pared excess is devout, a mother’s touch. Paradoxical, Jacquelyn Apostolo’s titled self-portrait reveals her understanding of the valiant absurdity of fixing one’s self in time or place, exploring the complexity of the artist that looks she herself; our gaze as the viewer is mediated by the painter’s own deconstruction.

Are Adam Christian’s 2 a.m. Thoughts conscious or dreamy? Lucid colour and form demonstrate the evasiveness of truth.

Malleability eases execution of intent in the record’s adaption to a digital age. Kenny Collado’s Pop exercise in lurid red and green is indeed Calm and Cool. Janaiya Curtis’s Deadpool 2 credibly navigates the comic world with no hint of Lichtenstein’s irony. Disruption is the new normal. Let the record show youth knows their advantage.

Photographs are not the objective record of a mechanical eye; they are the found image intentionally documented. Aayesha Ayub’s Self-portrait alongside Untitled by Julian Medina, the same and different girl at once looks out of us. Placidity gives way to piqued interest. The record is one of relation to the depicted.

Hamilton Boykin’s Petite Hami beams. Shadows grow slim against the confident little sister emerging but it is Boykin’s awe documented.

Jian Tang’s Moment of Birds Flying offsets man, unmoved, stolid in his conviction of place.

Dimitra Boutsi’s Untitled subject unabashedly flirts with authority, if for even just a moment. Her boldness remains on record.

Steven Xavier Cortes’ Untitled steels us a secure view of the oft unseen. Whose apathy redeemed by lack of clarity is echoed in the blurred image?

And, Kimberly Lin’s Untitled landscape pushes a ghoulish dwelling closer. Is it towards us or towards the frame?

Shania Lopez’s Portrait of My Mother and Juan Esteban Burbano’s Marco Antonio Lopez are deliberate and unsentimental records of devotion to a mother and grandfather respectively.

Nickolitsa Anastasopoulos’ A Sucker‘s attenuated sinewy tentacles and bulbous head conceal a wee hollowed trove, harkening to Sontag’s campy Art Nouveau figure that is never just a figure.

Our glee in the clever hatch is a truth.

A Coffey,  2020