15 October – 20 November 1999
Damian Loeb’s paintings are like fantasy documentaries that combine imagery borrowed from fashion magazines, old master paintings, film stills and music videos to achieve seamless narrative paintings, executed in a hyper-realistic style. These cinematic works cannot easily be taken in at once, they need to be scanned—it’s as if several distinct paintings inhabit a consistent and continuous space. Presenting an airless and suffocating vision of America that exudes a sense of helplessness, Loeb’s images seem to fuse the photo-realist technique of Richard Estes with the mute angst found in paintings by Edward Hopper.
The artist’s creative process starts with a collage, made by photocopying and the cutting out and assimilating sets of found images; the resulting hybrid visual mixtures then become studies for the larger-scale paintings. Loeb’s painstaking method of applying thin glazes of oil paint in jewel-like colours and carefully rendering highlights and shadows, enables him to produce tightly-wrought pictures in which the evidence of the artist’s hand is reduced to a minimum. The slow painting process is in contrast to the sense of speed and immediacy demonstrated in the final work: the found images are dramatically reconfigured in order to distil a moment with heightened experimental and emotional impact. These baroque paintings create a psychosocial space and, as with dreams, the viewer is invited to free associate, piece-together and make sense of the jump-cut narratives.