In the black and white photo, the light from the lamp is an intense, white aura. The blinding halo of light evokes the sun, or a lit electric lamp, and a viewer may be inclined to avoid looking into the white area. Quaytman refers to this as a “blind spot,” something used to move the viewers eye throughout the picture plane and the gallery at large. The surface of Chapter 12: iamb
is covered with a frosty texture, like artificial, aerosol snow. Diamond dust has also been sprinkled over the surface; tiny crystal grains twinkle in the light as one moves before the picture. This, like much of Quaytman’s work, gives the viewer a sense of involvement. One can change their perception of a piece by focusing their eyes on different areas or by standing in a different spot. All of Quaytman’s silkscreens have a sharp, well-constructed appearance. They’re printed on smooth, wood panels, and when viewed from an angle, their beveled, wooden sides can be seen. A yellow, abstract piece lets sections of the woodgrain wrap from the edges, to the front of the panel. A bare, wooden strip appears centered on each side of the picture–imagine a picture frame with only two, opposite sides (one shorter than the other). These thin vertical forms appear to hold the piece to the wall, something like the metal clamp of a clipboard. This type of decoration is a reminder that Quaytman’s images are physical constructions, artifacts, and not just illusions.
According to the press release for Chapter 12: iamb
, in R. H. Quaytman‘s world, “the picture actively refers back to the painting itself.” Self-referencing is indeed the most apparent visual and thematic connection between Quaytman’s silkscreens. Fresnell lense
, for example, appears to be a photograph of the aforementioned silkscreen “lateral inhibitions in the perceptual field”
hanging on a wall, but rotated 90 degrees. Quaytman’s reason for repeating artwork in multiple photographs is enigmatic, however it does give the exhibition’s body of work a unified feel. Another untitled piece presents the familiar illuminated desk lamp. Over this grainy black and white print, however, a thin bar of bright yellow printing ink has been wiped from top to bottom, overlapping the bulb of the lamp. It could be the artist’s illustration of a shaft of light, an attempt to once again show the artist‘s presence.
Similar gameplay between the photographic picture and the physical surface appears in Chapter 12: iamb
, where a tapelike strip diagonally crosses another lamp photograph in two places. Quaytman’s work is dark and quiet, with a mature energy. The artist is able to move your eyes and body from piece to piece, immersing you in moody zones and glimpses of rooms, and then pull you out, reminding you that you’re looking at physical creations. The artist’s motive for this may be as mysterious as her glowing lamps and unrevealing room compositions, but the overall experience is not unsatisfying, but rather interesting.