"In the galleries: Putting flat art into perspective" by Mark Jenkins

"In the galleries: Putting flat art into perspective" by Mark Jenkins

an excerpt from the article...

It was a Renaissance when 15th-century Italian painters began to use vanishing-point perspective. In our age of 3-D flicks and virtual-reality goggles, such techniques have been aggressively upstaged. Yet there are 3½ perspective-teasing paintings in “DIY Laser Eye Surgery,” Rives Wiley’s Hamiltonian Gallery show.

The puckish centerpiece, which shares the show’s name, combines painting, video and stage-set sculpture. In the video, a parody of YouTube tutorials, a girlish off-screen voice instructs do-it-yourselfers on how to physically modify their eyes for the digital age. Gallery visitors watch the small screen from behind the silhouette of a long-haired person who appears intent on the video. The hair is genuine, not painted, and there is actual space between the sculptural viewer and the video. Yet some of the distance is simulated with painted imagery.

Also depicted in the Washington artist’s diorama are translucent colored shapes that represent lens flare. These take on a separate existence in resin forms that hang in spots in the gallery. From the proper angle, perhaps, looking through these oversize spheres can imitate the effects of digitized eyesight.

Wiley’s more traditional paintings are entirely flat, yet just as concerned with vision and depth. The artist employs a sort of photo realism, crisp yet sometimes blurry edged, that emulates Internet imagery. The pictures depict a dinner party, a paint-and-sip venue and a wheat field that inspires women to jump for joy, all rendered precisely but disorientingly. Some objects are rounded naturalistically, while others are as flat as, well, pictures. The composition might flow or be chopped into vignettes. Wiley has classical skills, but the world she depicts owes less to Botticelli than to Instagram.

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