The liberation of painting from its historically European, representational purpose came about with the technological advancement of photography. Painters in turn, while eyeing the old masters in the rearview mirror, kept driving; going the distance as they pleased. Similarly, digital leaps and democratization of photography pushed photographers in every which direction, each leading to a unique creative expression and leaving documentary responsibility in the dust. The trajectories of both practices are parallel, and it is within this equidistant pursuit Stephen Childs explores the power and potential of abstract photographic imagery that is excitingly painterly.
It is impossible to trace back Childs’ stimulatingly puzzling, non-pictorial image to its original source. Try as you may, you won’t find an answer. You stand back, adjust your focus, squint your eyes, and peel at myriad layers of prism-colored vibrating veils of light. Behind these shrouds, you’ll only find an embracing vastness of a blinding glow or all-consuming void of blackness. All representations cease to exist —no figures, no objects. Only the presence of varying radiance graces the shimmery lustrous satin surface. The forms found here are also equally elusive. Their seemingly material appearance is nothing more than illumination in disguise. Still no characters, no plots, no stories, no beginnings or endings.
The works are not, however, a simple reductionistic exercise to get rid of all narratives and meanings. Though perhaps such pursuit is existentially warranted, coursing it would have been tragically boring. Instead and thankfully, Childs offers a kind of a blank slate filled with mysteries full of colorful vibrance. You are, of course, welcome to wonder, be amused, get stimulated, and even driven to be excited by the visual possibilities presented in front of you. It takes a lot of looking, but the reward is worth the commitment.www.stephenwchilds.com.
All images courtesy of artist.