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Indepth Arts News:

"Frank Gillette: Digital Images, 1994-1999"
1999-10-01 until 2000-02-13
Everson Museum of Art
Syracuse, NY, USA United States of America

Since 1991, Manhattan-based artist Frank Gillette has worked in a virtual studio, becoming proficient on a high-end computer with allied scanners, archival storage systems, monitors, and printers. During the subsequent years, he has created over 300 pictures by these means. For his solo show at the Everson, the artist will exhibit digitally-composed work created during the past five years, including 24 large-scale Iris prints and 12 smaller ink-jet prints. In addition, an installation of three CD-ROM projection systems will convey 150 images created by the artist in calibrated sequences on wall-hung plasma display screens, 52 by 30 inches each.

Gillette imposes upon the computer imaging system a way of constructing pictures that avoids the visual characteristics that are seemingly inherent in that system. He turns instead to the pictorial methodologies of Baroque painting, a vein of appropriation he sees as untapped, and applies them to the construction of his pictures by means of the computer. Some of these centuries-old painterly conventions include the use of chiaroscuro, sfumato, pentimento, and an interest in how figuration is articulated in space, à la Caravaggio. Gillette goes on to compose his pictures on the computer from a palette of images derived from his own photography or appropriated from sources that include all of art history, as well as newspapers, magazines, catalogues, and television. Any finished composition is constructed of hundreds of these appropriated vignettes, arranged in 15 to 25 overlaid layers, with each composition containing a high density of visual incidence.

Gillette's pictures are sensuously beautiful and have a monumental, grand quality even when viewed on the computer monitor. The compositions are intended to invite the viewer into the experience of an unfamiliar pictorial space that is populated with quasi-familiar entities that have been recombined in ways that are riddling, paradoxical, or contradictory. Although essentially ambiguous, much of the work evokes a sense of the ominous, a fin de siècle sense of winding down, of social disintegration, and man-made disaster. A virtual exhibition of Frank Gillette's work can also be seen at www.limulus.org. This exhibition is supported by the Central New York Community Foundation.


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