“I think of the painted image as summarizing
the problem we face when confronted with reality.
The question we need to ask ourselves is: Which reality?
The reality represented in a painted image?
The reality of the flat image, or the multi-dimensional
reality that exists between the viewer and the artist?”
This question about the image and how it is exploited,
testing the limits of representation, is at the heart
of Mark Tansey’s work. Tansey, who lives and works
in New York, was born in San José in 1949.
With two art historians for parents, he is acutely
aware of the history of art. He produces monumental,
and decidedly ambiguous, monochrome paintings:
in their extremely precise detail they have
the feel of documentary photography, yet at the same
time they depict impossible situations. This paradox
gives Tansey’s work a special resonance that
challenges our perception. What initially seems
recognizable turns out to be an allegorical
visual construction, manipulating the conventions
and structures of figurative painting. He uses
irony and Surrealistic combinations of places and
historical figures to establish strange connections
between ideas and events. His narratives
never actually take place – quite the opposite;
his work studies how various types of reality interact
and may merge, going beyond the reality / fiction
dichotomy he considers obsolete.