By its very nature, the representative regime of painting strangles away from a subject its realness. The painter’s act of selection substitutes the forthcoming conditions of picturehood for the fabrics of history. Undoubtedly, painting also serves to historicize the subject but can only do so by building upon a foundation of authentic amnesia. The birth date of a portrait coincides with the artist’s signature. New York City-based artist Jason Loebs’ pensive illustrations undermine and isolate discrepancies between the reality of a subject’s source and its rendition as representation. Several of Loebs’ paintings currently available for perusal in a two-person exhibition, alongside Andrew Falkowski at Kavi Gupta Gallery, portray pages from art historical books. The artist leaves out the text from the documents, isolating the images (often paintings by Manet and Courbet) within the dusty vacuum of an empty page. He also carefully renders remnants of the book’s objecthood, such as creases in the page or the specific dimensions of the margins. In this manner, Loebs’ paintings are particularly deliberate in their refusal to impersonate either the nineteenth-century masterpieces or the scholarly volumes that interpret them. This refusal indicates Loebs’ radicality from nascent tendencies to tap into historical tropes and cultivate them for the currency of their veneer. The risk of weathering, which all filters of representation guarantee, is in fact Loebs’ subject. His images are often muted, watered down or cracked to a point that can only suggest a disavowal for mimesis’ crutch of opticality. History is never visual. (Maxwell G. Graham)
Through August 9 at Kavi Gupta Gallery, 835 W. Washington.