Damian Loeb at Acquavella Galleries
The eight lush, lustrous, fastidiously executed paintings of a dark-haired beauty in Damian Loeb’s show ”Verschränkung and the Uncertainty Principle” are part of a not-yet-completed series based on photographs Loeb took of his wife over the past several years. From a highlighted raised hand in one image (a nod to Georges de la Tour) to a full frontal nude clutching a telephone (as in a scene from Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder) to a nude standing in a shower and viewed through slats, these high-contrast paintings provided a seamless mix of Caravaggesque painting and film-noir stills.
The canvases, all of them square in format with a single central figure usually in sharp focus and dramatically spotlit against a rather vague ground, investigate ways of seeing. Each painting is transfixed by a cool, pitiless light that renders it almost ominous. In cinematic language, the scene is set for potential drama and melodrama. It's the pause before the portentous music begins, the moment that divides the ordinary from the desperate.
The title of the show, taken from quantum physics, underscores the coplications and complicities of perception. ”Verschränkung” refers to the inseparability of subject and object, of artist, muse, and viewer, while Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that the observer, who is not neutral, alters what is being observed. In fact, the mirrors in several of the paintings turn the gaze back on the viewer, and the nature of voyeuIism—a theme and a question in these works—is accompanied by a chilled eroticism that seems curiously chaste. We are left in these images to ponder the perpetual fascination exerted on us by the lives of others.