Rachel Siporin - Artist - Painter


Statement - Rachel Siporin



My work has evolved out of still life. I continue to be involved with observation, although I employ a conceptual, constructed space. These figure compositions are based on objects I collect. The process begins with the search, and collecting. In the search I am drawn to an object, not always understanding its connection to the autobiographical content I pursue in the work. Later, as I paint from it, I begin to grasp what it represents for me.

In the past year, I have collected photographic images from the NY Times . I search for these images in a process which mirrors my quest for the perfect object to tell my stories. Floods, fires, improbable and impossible dance and theatrical productions, bombings, street violence, and images depicting icons of American life, such as a 1950’s beauty pageant or a dusty ranch where cowboys roam, have all provided inspiration. I draw from these images freehand, combining , and making a montage as I draw and paint- creating an amalgam of images from disparate photographs, and placing my objects so that they can be a player in this world I’ve constructed. I am an artist who loves to work from life. I have never been interested in the photograph. However, I feel that I have discovered the impact of photography in much the same way 19th century artists such as Degas, Manet and even Courbet, discovered the photograph. These 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 these 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. I realize, I am remarkably slow to process this important influence in twentieth century art. Perhaps if I live another hundred years, I might use photoshop.

I continue to enjoy working in Flashe, which I was originally drawn to for its matte, gouache-like, yet waterproof, permanent surface. I believed its intense pigment added to the psychological impact of my work. However, the majority of the paintings in the exhibition are in oil on wood panel. After several years of primarily working in Flashe, I missed layering color over wet color, and the uniquely sensuous quality of oil. My interest in process and spontaneity is evident in the drawings on Arches and vellum. I begin on the ragg paper, with a vague idea, and as it evolves I add the vellum, working back and forth between both layers. The vellum creates a sense of mystery, the original images on paper become a pentimento of sorts.

The phrase “The Limit of the Marvelous” comes from a turn of the century circus poster I own. Among the balloons advertising the incredible feats the great Kar-Mi troupe is capable of -”swallowing an electric light and shooting a gun barrel while it is down his throat”, the phrase appears. The Limit of the Marvelous describes the varied imagery that has inspired this work. It also describes the process of making art which, while marvelous, is always limited by the artist’s inability to achieve her original intention, which, in turn, sustains the painter.?