Paintings and monotypes by Beth Dacey and Andrew Fish
Opening Reception: Thu 4/30, 7-9 pm
Artist Talk: Fri 5/29, 7-9 pm
This exhibit explores some of the complexities between painterly practice and the instant gratification of image making today. Beth Dacey and Andrew Fish, the two featured artists, make use of found photographic material and streams of online, digital images we consume daily. However, while the photographic may be a central theme, both artists remain rooted in the tradition of mark-making, of building canvases and compositions over time. By emphasizing and editing out specific details of their source material, Dacey and Fish disrupt any attempt to read the content of their work as purely documenting particular moments in time. Whether with a stroke of bright color outlining a figure or an oversaturation of hue, the two push viewers back from the virtual window of photography to focus on the object and its form in front of them.
The artists’ push and pull is not only between artistic media, but also between the fact and fiction of time. Dacey, for instance, references intimate photographic portraits of people who, though strangers to her and her viewers, prod our personal memories and question how we relate to the past when, in fact, it is full of the unknowable. There is fluidity in the artist’s work and a strange tiptoeing between what a family snapshot is intended to remind us of and what a painting can open up to a wider audience. Notably Dacey crops the figures in her paintings to Polaroid casualness, which is becoming an aesthetic universally known through phone apps like Instagram. In doing so, she connects glimpses of past decades with images of other people’s lives that we see each day online.
Digital culture’s tendency to isolate us from each other physically is a theme running through Fish’s work. Unlike Dacey’s figures, his are solitary and walk through the distance or in shadow, which sets them apart from what one might expect from a typical snapshot. Fish’s paintings are neither portraits nor landscapes but hover somewhere in between. Ambiguous in their features and intentions, each silhouette seems to miss the other and to inhabit different planes within his compositions. Rather than the painting absorbing the aesthetic of a photograph, Fish uses photography as a launching point to examine how digital fascination might assist in creating tension between groups of figures in his work and in the world itself.
SNAPSHOT is a balancing act between immediacy and sustained attention. In its conjoining of new and old modes of visual representation, the work here has a common thread and an ability to pull contemporary viewers back to painting with fresh eyes.
About the Artists
Beth Dacey has studied painting at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts and at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She holds a BA and an MA from Boston College and, for a number of years, taught writing and literature there. Dacey lives and works in Boston.
Andrew Fish studied at the School of Visual Arts, New York and Middlebury College. He lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts and exhibits in Boston, Washington, DC, and New York.