Thursday, February 04, 2016

Getting Lost in the Past

“I think I’m homing in on some interesting ideas.”
Damian Stamer

The American painter Damian Stamer, who had his first New York exhibition whilst still studying for his MFA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is inspired by the landscapes of his youth. The memory of which he recreates with his abstracted figurative works.

Stamer regularly returns to the North Carolina countryside to photograph the remaining remnants of the past which he reworks in his New York Studio.

As he told The Nashville Arts Magazine’s Daniel Tidwell These are the same old barns, relatively unchanged, that my bus passed every day to and from school over twenty years ago.”

It is the challenge of turning his trips down memory lane into paintings that speak to an audience endowed mostly with an urban aesthetic through paint and canvas that enthralls.

About which he says “the difficulty of accessing information and emotions of years past, translated visually through faded colors and erasure. These works also hint at black-and-white photography, perhaps our most common window to the past, with white borders and dappled aging… There comes a time when these biographical and identity-laden concerns fall away, like the rockets of a space shuttle after launch. Chance and intuition take over. Painting becomes a dance outside the realm of language and concept.

It is a dance that sees Stamer constantly looking for new steps that will drive his work forward.

As he says “My most exciting times in the studio come when I discover how to make a new mark or surface effect. I’m like a scientist, always tinkering and experimenting with unique ways to push my medium. When I find a new way to use paint that I’ve never seen before, I feel like I am adding to a conversation that began thousands of years ago.”

A point he underscored to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Newsletter, Endeavors “I’m always looking for new tools and ways to spread paint. I’ve used masking tape, squeegees, heavy-duty paper towels, solvents, and even a frying pan to splatter paint.”

And whilst technique is important, it is when he ignores it, getting lost in the work, that Stamer achieves his most satisfying paintings.

As he says “I think I make my best work when I’m not really thinking at all. It may sound odd, but I think it’s like an athlete being in the zone.”

Stamer’s current exhibition A little past Lake Michie is on show at Philadelphia’s Bridgette Mayer Gallery until the 27th of February.

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