Paintings from the Camera Obscura
In 1833, on the shores of Lake of Como in Italy, after attempting to sketch from nature with “the smallest possible amount of success”, Henry Fox Talbot contemplated “…how charming it would be if it were possible to cause these natural images [from the Camera Obscura] to imprint themselves durably, and remain fixed upon the paper!” A few years later in February 1839, Talbot was the second person, after Louis Daguerre, to present a working method for producing photographic images to the public.
Nearly 200 years following the initial successful experiments where silver nitrates produced faint permanent images on paper, the fascination with the photograph’s capacity to possess its subject seemingly instantaneously, endures as a powerfully seductive vision of reality.
These paintings are an investigation of the illusion of photographic representation. Referencing historical photography and contemporary picture making, these images reinterpret examples of traditional and popular photographic genres. In these works, visual effects such as shifts in focus, colour distortions, and effects of exposure time become traces that reveal the mechanical and optical basis of the familiar photographic aesthetic, in order to explore the subjectivity of the photographic vision.
Rendered in paint, these effects reveal the elusiveness of a definitive, authoritative representation and the ephemeral nature of the material world, destined to be fully experienced only through repeated observation. I suggest the reductive nature of the photographic medium, as every photograph is inherently incomplete, each image inviting the creation of the next.
Paulo Majano, 2006