Proximity refers to the concept of closeness. It is not just a physical closeness, but a metaphorical nearness. It expands and contracts through space, time, and place. Closeness refers to the relationship we have with each other in presence or feeling. In painting, it is a poetic tool that serves to push and pull the spectator. However, it exists just as strongly within the artist’s studio where a work first arises. It’s from the artist's studio to the moment the work is experienced by others, that closeness comes full circle.
In painting, closeness occurs through different planes. It is present in the art space in which it is meant to be experienced as the spectator plays with proximity. The spectator interacts with an artwork, stepping close to further inspect and retracting to contemplate. In the studio, it arises in the artist’s painterly expression of self. Whether the work is figurative or abstract, heavily gestural or minimalist, painting is the transfer of experience from the self to the body and onto canvas. It is a process of closeness that allows paint to be the language; while how it is applied, becomes the dialect. Delicate and intricate at times, while full and texturized in others. These historical and time-based produced dialects of the language of painting push and pull us to observe and interpret its form and concept, to decipher meaning. Much like our lips and hands interpret our thoughts and needs through various sounds and shapes with distinct pitches and dimensions, the artist’s closeness to paint is the language that interprets our diverse forms of being through form and concept.
In So Close, Yet So Far, the works presented offer the opportunity to approach the expressed selves of seven contemporary artists. It is in the works that we must discover and decipher the dialects they present. Each work, unique in its expression of this language, offers a physical and internal exploration of self. Tiffany Alfonseca, Rafael Baron, Muofhe Manavhela, Shaina McCoy, Tonia Nneji, Deborah Segun, and Demetrius Wilson allow us to get close to who they are, not just by what is represented in their work but by their own expression of style and form. From the most detailed figures to the most abstracted shapes, the works presented are to be experienced in closeness, but also from our ability to imagine their creation from the distant studio from which they arose.