Damian Loeb: Staring Into The Abyss
Damian Loeb's hyper-realistic paintings exude a quiet menace. The spaces he captures in these paintings still carry the faint echoes of terrible acts and seem to vibrate with an unset-tling potential. While the principles have deserted the scene, the stage has absorbed their energy and stores it, like a battery holding a charge suspended in acid. Something malevolent thrives in these deceptively empty rooms. Gazing into these oils is like staring too long at a dark window in an abandoned house. You may begin to feel increasingly certain that some-thing unspeakable in that void has noticed your attention and has taken an interest in you. When one artist riffs on the work of another, often the emphasis is squarely on the differences between the two. In the 1950s, Picasso did a series of paintings that were tributes to great works from the history of art, lovingly dismantling the paintings of Manet, Delacroix, Courbet and Velázquez. These paintings escalated his attack on the modernist edict that all art must be original and helped set the stage for the culture of artistic appropriation that still prevails. His many variations of these classic paintings purposely told you more about Picasso himself than about either the other artists or their original subjects. To a certain extent, artists are always really painting themselves. No matter what the subject, eventually a sense of the artist himself comes through. Yet, perhaps no one is more slippery in this regard than Damien Loeb. In so much of the work that initially brought him fame, Loeb hides his personal perspective behind the iconic imagery of other artists. You recognize the image, but something's different, something's disturbing, and you can't quite give it a name. Yet the alien nature of his interpretation still radiates like heat from the frame. Felt more than seen. Sensed rather than revealed by any examination of the brushwork. Loeb may source classic films for the works featured on these pages, but you won't find the scenes he paints featured on the movie poster. Rather he plucks fleeting images from the margins of these famous pieces and recontextualizes them, underlining and amplifying them, until they begin to reveal the true depth of their ominousness. In these images, all taken from Kubrick's films, Loeb has made the hand of the painter all but invisible. The result is a seamless, extremely detailed glimpse of a specific moment in time that teases the parahippocampal cortex. In Loeb's collage-driven work, the conversation is not between differing images, or a dialogue between artists, but between the viewer's memory of a familiar scene and Loeb's eerie re-rendering of it. While it's instantly familiar, it grows stranger and more disquieting the longer you look at it. It's a lit-tle uncomfortable, more than a little exhilarating, and we wanted to share some of them with you. Pleasant dreams...
41x168in Oil on Linen
108x120in Oil on Linen
36x84in Oil on Linen