LIKENESS, Gregg Louis’ newest creative experiment, will be on view at Nohra Haime Gallery from November 17 to December 31, 2015. Continuing his research on the line between abstraction and representation, he applies self-examination and perception to delve into our brain’s responses toward fractured images and visual
The exhibition is composed of a set of drawing and painting experiments that are both visually and conceptually linked. The Blind Self Portraits are inspired by a basic drawing technique called blind contour drawing, an exercise designed to hone focus and observation skills. Louis borrows this process to create self-portraits. Fixating on his reflection in the mirror, Louis draws a self-portrait without ever looking at the paper, thus releasing a representational fluidity connected to self-perception.
Taking it a step further he does another blind portrait by looking only at the original drawing he created. Louis then hand-paints this second portrait directly onto the wall from a projection, completely breaking the representational character and articulating a new fully abstract field. These wall paintings serve as a backdrop to their original counterparts, which are hung and framed on top. The Double Blind Self Portraits deal with the variability of perception, and how our brain uses the information contained in an abstraction to transform it into a more literal image.
Finally, in addition to the Double Blind Self Portraits, Louis closes the perceptional cycle by reworking the portraits and granting them a more solidified quality through colorful ink washes. Filling in the negative spaces of these initial drawings, he creates Blind Self Portraits, which are linked to the role of memory in perception and visual identification. They refer to the idea we hold of a specific individual’s face, and how this image begins to blur and acquire an abstract quality, forming an obstacle in the reconstruction of our memories.
Likeness projects the analytical-synthetic process our brain endures in perceiving images. In Louis’ creations, we find conceptual worries linked to acclaimed neurologist Oliver Sacks’ studies on perceptual conditions, such as prosopagnosia or face-blindness. Louis uses these references to incorporate a deeply personal insight into our culture’s interpretation of images, and how this affects the act of creation. Quoting Dr. Edelman, Oliver Sacks’ links perception and creativity: “Every act of perception,” Edelman writes, “is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.”
In defying the borders between representation and conceptual perception, The Blind Self Portraits go back to a lineage of meta message in the arts, from Magritte’s The Treachery of Images, to Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs.