Synesthesia, Parataxic Distortion, and the Shadow, Acquavella Galleries



New York, NY (July 2008)—Nearly 20 new paintings by the American artist Damian Loeb (b. 1970), will be shown at Acquavella Galleries from September 5 through October 7, 2008, to launch the fall season there.  Known for creating hyper realistic works from collages of 'found' images and still frames from classic movies, this show takes the learned language from previous works and applies it to his acquisition process.  Loeb photographs fleeting documentary images, changes their context and paints them in a way that reveals the true depth of the ominous undercurrents in the imagery.  "Damian Loeb is one of the most innovative figurative painters of his generation." said Alexander Acquavella about taking on the artist for his first show at the gallery.

The name of the exhibition, Synesthesia, Parataxic Distortion, and the Shadow, comes from the titles for three of the smaller (12 x 24 inches), oil-on-linen paintings featured in the show; all of which are psychological terms that either directly reference ideas of perception and subjectivity or refer to emotional states that can affect observation.

For Synesthesia, Parataxic Distortion, and the Shadow, Damian Loeb adapted language of cinematography to create these new images.

By co-opting the aspect ratio of film in meticulously representational work used to represent subject which otherwise would be in motion, his work reinvigorates still life.

"In creating the images I used as the basis for this collection," Loeb continued, "I shot all the time, constantly looking through the camera instead of over it, searching for what has now become universally familiar, painting them as if I was the director. Focusing on both the narrative and scene setting, but careful never to directly interfere through instruction or forced lighting, I eventually managed to find ways to compose and capture these very specific personal film stills."

In essence, he became the production designer for his own 'immaculate universe'; a universe of potent yet 'non decisive moments'.

These images are solidified and codified through the act of painting them on canvas where they can be viewed as a new chapter in a conversation exemplified by artists as diverse as Vermeer, Balthus, Millais and Fischl, as well as the theatrical visions of the Lumière brothers and the language created by master directors like Hitchcock, Kubrick and Spielberg.

Among the highlights of Synesthesia, Parataxic Distortion, and the Shadow is The High and the Mighty (2007), an oil on linen, which depicts an airplane view of the ground below in a colorful blur as the plane speeds past. The title is derived from the 1954 John Wayne drama in which everything that can go wrong does and portrays how people deal with the idea of disaster. It also is emblematic of the artist's dislike of flying.

M (2007), another of the large (36 x 84 inches), featured oils on  linen in the exhibition, places the viewer in the swimming pool, eye-level to the water, peering at a young, blond girl in a blue print bikini as she sun bathes on her stomach while lying on a raft. She appears unaware that she is being watched. Loeb explains that the title comes from the 1931 film of the same name, directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre, "about a nasty fellow who can't help but kill little girls....Lang does an incredible job of making you see through Peter Lorre's eyes and empathize with the character despite his evil as he is trapped like a rat by the underground people of the city and attempts to defend himself," he said.

Pareidolia (2007), is one of the smaller oil paintings on linen and another highlight of the exhibition; it is a skyscape of clouds set against a vivid blue sky; The term "pareidolia" refers to a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a vague or random stimulus, such as an image or a sound, is perceived as significant; for example, when a person thinks he or she sees faces in a cloud or hears hidden messages when a record is played in reverse.

Acquavella Galleries is the exclusive international agent for the New York-based realist Damian Loeb, the renowned British painter Lucian Freud, the pioneer American Pop artist James Rosenquist.

Acquavella Galleries is open to the public Monday – Friday, and during this exhibition on Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery is located at 18 East 79th Street, New York, NY