Paul Sietsema- Seeing as Media

The affect is potent and pure.

I am fooled, or am I a fool.  Images striking like the shutter of a camera. Visual culture today doesn’t question how or where the image is conceived. It is all presumed to exist in some capacity. The accessibility to information and the images that are dragged along with it are of no mystery, and if there is, no one quite cares. Art and culture is now reduced to .jpeg or .gifs, and is viewed on the same platform as “everything else” due to technology. To make paintings about capturing moments of “work” in relation to current and social issues and juxtapose them with “artifact” would just appear to be a repetition a copy of the already established algorithm in which images are delivered to us. Yet Paul Sietsema seems to bind “now” with artifact and facsimile simultaneously.

The paintings come of initially as something they are not. The read is quick and concise.  Literal and clear, the “paintings”  execution and representations beckon a closer look.  I use the word “paintings” here in quotations because at first they appear photographic or printed. It could be easy to brush them off, but their precision requires some scrutiny.  The materiality addresses this idea of progress and sustain a pregnant moment that is shattered the closer you get, but not as an unreadable mess, but a facsimile’s matrix that is so tight that the blur between perception and the actual object in front of you becomes an exercise of fossilizing time between the static paintings and potential energy of the subject matter being depicted.

That is one thing this show seems to push; Potential Energy. The paintings of all the objects whether moments of “still life” to “Screen Prints”, in paintings such “Light Fall, Cutting Daisies”, the halftone is directly painted and the revelation that they aren’t prints distills or fuses the work with the idea of aura. Images become hyper real but not like Marilyn Minter or Richard Phillips.  These paintings act like the common state of visual culture and deliver a type of information that must be decoded and reconstructed in the same state of consciousness as contemporary culture. The production of work, the non-production, and the quick understanding and read of a photograph or .jpeg. He fools you with one studio artifact (Stack Drawing), and the rest are recreations of artifacts, painted in enamel, on died substrates to match the color, or water colors of calendar photos of sail boats where the sail’s depict dates in chronological order with Ghost images of the dates peaking through the light that doesn’t exist, from a sun that is not hiding behind the surface.

He re-presents his studio as artifact via projections and a poetic dialogue by Jean Debuffet. These “kinetic” re-presentations of his studio and artifacts fading in and out of existence, like the Time Piece whose time changes yet remains static, or the Pre-Colonial broken vessels recreated for documentation. The reality is that of one that has existed, still exist and will continue to exist.

Steven Vainberg

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