The War of the Infinite.
An Essay by Glennray Tutor.
Glennray Tutor (yes, my father) recently gave a speech on the meaning of his work - particularly his “Jar” and “Bottle” series but he also worked his entire body of work into the speech. I found the speech to be enlightening and it made me proud of my father, not only as a son but as an artist. You can read it in full below:
Today I’m showing images of paintings from my “Jar” and “Bottle” series. But everything that I say applies to all my paintings: my “Firework” series, my “Heart Shaped Box” series, my “Comic Book” series, etc.
First, I’ll talk about technique.
My paintings are made by applying oil paint onto canvas or paper, using brushes. Basically, I’m using the same technique as did such artists as Vermeer or Caravaggio. However, I photograph my objects. Then, I use the photographs for reference instead of the actual objects. There is more visual information contained in the photos than in what a human eye can see alone. So I have more detail to draw from, as I choose. This is the starting point for the physical painting process. As the painting progresses I may eliminate objects that appeared in the original photo composition, or enhance them, rearrange them, add a new object, or objects, change colors, change scale. All elements are open for manipulation or modification, as I feel appropriate for the painting. Eventually in the process, the photos are put aside, and all references then occur within the painting and myself.
I am described as a Photorealist, and considered part of the art movement known as Photorealism, which began around 1970. In helping to distinguish a Photorealist painting, in addition to photography being used as one of the tools in the artist’s creative process, Photorealist paintings on first viewing appear not to be paintings, but, instead, photographs. This is because with a Photorealist painting, the viewer must get very close before detecting those elements normally associated with oil paintings: Brushstrokes, texture, etc. Sometimes, as with my paintings, a magnifying glass is required to be sure it is actually an oil painting.
Why do I choose to paint this way?
Because I believe that visual evidence of how the painting was achieved interferes with a viewer’s perception/experience of the art in the painting.
To help clarify, here are two analogies: When watching a magician’s performance, I don’t want to know how he does the trick, because my sense of wonder will be lessened. When hearing a musical performance, I don’t want to hear all the wrong notes, chords and rhythms that were tried during the process that led to the final piece. I want to experience the flawless end product.
I should emphasize here that flawless technique alone will never generate a work of art. A perfectly played sonata, for example, without an engaging melody, will fail. I try to choose my objects and orchestrate them in my painting compositions, so that the viewer is engaged and entertained… by an interplay of the visual, emotional and intellectual. Metaphor is a very important component in my paintings.
Now … I’ll discuss what I’m attempting to achieve with my work. My paintings are my war against the infinite.
From what we know of the universe, it goes cosmically out, and keeps going. There is no end to it. It is infinite. It also goes in, quantumly (I’m speaking about atoms and what they consist of), and keeps going. It appears there is no end as to how far it goes. It, too, is infinite. So there are two infinities: the cosmic one, and the quantum one.
This idea of the infinite is a difficult one for me. It’s very hard for me to conceive of such a thing. It’s almost as hard for me to conceive of infinity as it is for me to conceive of our reality: Matter. The universe itself. The stars, galaxies, this planet, life forms, the myriad facets of this existence, you and me, our amazing sentience.
And, of course, the Thing — The Big Thing — that all of it moves in: Time.
Actually, it’s easier for me to conceive of nothing than it is for me to conceive of something. But, in spite of my abilities of conception — or lack thereof — here we are. And there is matter. And there is reality. There is time. And it all appears to be infinite.
Consequently, in my paintings, I try to alleviate the personally troubling aspects of infinity, both the cosmic and the quantum, by depicting an idea of containment, the complete opposite of infinite. I want to depict a place where both infinities have been reeled in. Where there is just now. Where time is a single moment, contained.
"A Season of Moment" by Glennray Tutor.
These jars are you and I with our magnificent essence contained. The sealed vessels provide comfort, safety, beauty, and nothing is moving, nothing is changing. You seem to be in a Season of Moment. And for a while this seems real. However, eventually, the viewer will realize that this is not the truth. Now, and I hate to disclose this part, but what is also happening with my work is just the opposite of what I have described. In my painting the colors, shapes, lines, their particles of emotion, of the intellectual, all elements are turning into light. And are all coming away from my painting.
My arrangement of matter, which is what my painting actually is, is coming away like a tidal wave washing onto us and through us like radioactivity through us and onward and onward and outward and inward and on and on forever. And, be aware: be cautious as you look into the world I’ve created hanging on the wall. You might fall into it and never stop falling. But, let’s pause here, and let’s go back to that moment I spoke of earlier.
With the way I have arranged my painted construction it is just like opening a door and stepping inside a room. You enter and you are in a place where you are immortal. You have the time to explore and see and contemplate any beauty, any profundity.
At least until the jars are opened.
And it’s okay. Because then we go to Heaven.