Blindfold Statement - Rachel Siporin
The metaphor of Blindfold has several layers of meaning. On the surface, there is the literal reference to the images of mistreated prisoners in Iraq. However, in keeping with the autobiographical nature of my work, the metaphor steps back to include myself (and the viewer as well) as the blindfolded. In this interpretation of the image, the one who wears the blindfold is not the victim, but rather the unknowing perpetrator of inhumane acts. In this reading, my personal feelings of guilt, helplessness, and duplicity are conveyed. One may deduce that the blindfolded figure is also the individual with the gun.
I am deeply affected by the late work of Phillip Guston, who returned, in the 1970’s, to the images of hooded figures that he employed in his early work. However, when Guston reintroduces the hooded figures, they are at an easel, smoking and painting. They have become self-portraits, painted during the years of the Vietnam War. I interpret this depiction of the artist as Ku Klux Klan member, to express Guston’s awareness that he is an unwilling accomplice to immoral acts. He is able to continue to paint, his world is, by and large, unaffected by the horrific acts of war. I see a parallel here, to how I feel, and how that feeling is expressed in my repeated use of the blindfold.
My work has evolved out of still life, spanning a thirty-year period. Painting and drawing exclusively from life, I composed using inspiration from an evolving collection of figurative objects, which I would work from, to tell autobiographical narratives. During the past two years, I have collected photographic images from the newspaper, searching with the same enthusiasm I had in my quest for the perfect object. The newspaper provides inspiration from a variety of images -floods, fires, movie stills, dance, operatic and theatrical productions, bombings, and street violence. I draw and paint from these images freehand, combining, and constructing an invented space - creating an amalgam of images from disparate photographs. This work continues to combine observation with formal concerns of composition and is executed with a brushy spontaneous zeal for the process of painting, for surface, and incident. After thirty years of painting from life, I find I am utilizing photography in much the same way 19th century painters such as Degas, Manet and Courbet, have done. These photographic images have allowed me to be in places I could never travel to, witness events I am unable to. They freeze a moment; condense space so that scale and value contrasts are intensified. Frequently the images I am drawn to- explosions, man made and natural catastrophes- strike me as a product of invention- appearing less real than anything I have experienced visually, first hand.