Refractor.
Artist Statement - Campus Gallery, Georgian College (November 2019).


Much has been made of the primacy of vision, hand-eye coordination, and the emphasis on attention spans during Modernity for productivity purposes as well as to observe social life and ascertain notions of truth. But why attentively look at and describe objects in a heavily mediated, distracted, and instantly gratifying 21st century? The translation process in observational painting is an exclusionary practice of what I choose to describe rather than a document of what I actually see. These are not new ideas. When observation is considered a stand-in for empirical truth and there is an increased tension between objective evidence-based practices and the conclusions drawn through subjective vision/experience, ideas of selective perception feel increasingly urgent to me.

The works on display involve creating compositions that establish constantly fluctuating optical scenarios by using reflective and transparent surfaces. The compositions are then translated into paintings through direct observation. These larger paintings are contrasted by a series of observational still-life paintings of various objects from my studio created within a quick 1-2 hour period. The quick decision-making approach juxtaposed alongside longer, more attentive, observation and recitation supports a notion of the difference between “looking” and “seeing”. For me, these contrasting processes of observational painting allow for a breadth of considerations associated to optical and perceptual “truth”, the shortfalls of representation, and, perhaps most importantly, a responsibility to continuously learn and re-learn to look and evaluate in order to see information.

Mike Pszczonak received his Bachelor of Arts within the Studio Art program at the University of Guelph and a MFA from the Western University. He currently lives in London, Ontario. The project is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council's Emerging Artist Visual Arts Creation Projects Grant.