2010 by Grant Willing
Part of Graphic Intersections & The Portrait as Allegory, Umbrage Gallery, Brooklyn
Willing often works in black and white, manipulating the way the tones lend themselves to the showing of crisp line and subtle composition with the lack of colourific distraction. Here, however, the image is blurred, in an effect that appears as a summoning of thought or image that is remembered hazily. This may have something to do with the intriguing nature of this exhibition, put together playing the Surrealist and Dadaist game ‘The Exquisite Corpse’, each artist constructs his photograph on the inspiration of another artist in the exhibition, creating a chain of work interconnected in their purely visual reactions to each other (no wording or identity to the ‘inspiring photograph’ is given). Producing a show of intrigue and connection, these photos are interesting in their varying inspiration where no artist has been left to themselves. It is apt then that Willing’s photograph should be a slight haze, a tentative reaching out for concrete ideas, or an overlapping of subjects. The bird, central and imposing, possesses a power in its positioning, a foreboding and slightly eerie stance in its size and the comparison of the toy-town houses in the background. These buildings are barely visible in the blur that is the backing landscape; ghostly it spreads out non-descriptly, topped by the silhouettes of foliage, blurred too but contrastingly close rather than distant. This consistent lack of definition is cemented with the view of the image through a final film of disturbance, a pattern of fine lines that cover the entire composition, as if we watch through a distorted television screen. The atmosphere is ominous, confirmed by the obstructing object in front of the central bird; symbol-like, it hovers like a sign. This image is full of possible meanings, reflected literally in its blurred uncertainty that makes the effect subtle and utterly absorbing.