Thursday
May172012

"BLACK MIRROR" Dominic Shepherd and John Stark

May 13 until June 16, 2012 // Ambacher Contemporary  // Munich

In Chinese mythology another world exists on the far side of the mirror - here the 'Fauna of Mirrors' live. All colours, shapes and forms are not as of this side of the reflection. There they wait, searching for the opening that will let them through.

Dominic Shepherd / Oracles, 2012 / Oil on canvas
35 x 30 cm / courtesy of the artist and Ambacher Contemporary, Munich

The black mirror is a traditional scrying tool, akin to the crystal ball or basin of water; it is an object for seeing into the spirit world. But like the 'fauna' these spirits are locked in their simulacra world. The fauna and flora that occupy my paintings inhabit this other space. Like reflections of reflections they are recognisable but the perspective and scales change from here to there. Created from the stuff ofpaint I wish them to swim into view, taking form, struggling to become, returning our gaze. Recently I have been painting a frame into my canvases, wishing to further the conceit of a looking glass, the misty world unfolding beyond. It is the reflection that they create in our minds that gives them true form, allowing them to step through the mirror to our side.

"In a drawer I keep a black mirror, a shallow concave glass, inherited by my partner from a magician she first met in the narrow lanes surrounding the British Museum. On the rare occasions I take it out, I think of all the other faces that have gazed into it, and those that looked back."

- Dominic Shepherd

John Stark // The Last Continent, 2012
Oil on wood panel / 50x60 cm
courtesy of the artist and Ambacher Contemporary, Munich

Claude Lorrain was famous for using the Black Mirror as a painting aid, a small slightly convex mirror with a darkly tinted surface. The use of a blackened rather than an ordinary silvered mirror resulted in a somewhat weakened reflection, which stressed the prominent features in the landscape at the expense of detail. It also lowered the colour key. The painter would turn his back to the scenery and analyze the view through the tinted glass which had the effect of abstracting the subject from the world imbuing it with a painterly quality.

"My intention for the exhibition Black Mirror is to create paintings that reflect this world through a different light. The figures depicted are often absorbed in intimate rituals with their back to the viewer, veiling the action and creating a sense of ambiguity where the beholder is free to question the meaning. The specific objective is to create paradoxical images that reflect the psychology of the viewer through their interaction with the mirror- like painted surface, and the subject within. I hope to achieve paintings that can be read as both cruel and compassionate, warm and cold, dark and light."

- John Stark

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