El Greco and alchemy

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Post by Robert Asman

[Ed. note–Asman’s post responds to Roberta’s post of Feb 8.]

Roberta, FYI, I had just seen the El Greco/ Guston show at the Met (two of my favorite artists because they took intelligent risks) and when I saw the atmospere in the sky with the autumn clouds and the despairing headlines of destruction in the Mideast, I challenged myself that weekend to alter the silver in the silver photographic process (black and white) to inhabit the dark mystery overhanging us now, just like it did to El Greco in the late 16th Century. (image is detail from “View of Toledo,” 1597)

As another explanatory note, I remember as a young English major at Catholic University being priviledged to see Morris Louis visit Ken Noland at the schools art department and explain and demonstrate how he was exploring the nature of paint on a surface and then went on to drip house paint, diluted tube paints, etc., to show his point.

I am really, to a great degree, exploring the nature of silver, a very precious commodity that no one seems to understand except Bill Gates and Warren Buffett who own warehouses of it. It is a very mystical and spiritual metal with true alchemical qualities which I do try to illustrate with these photographs.

With so much lens-based reality content around, I find the exploration of the materials (and not the content) of my medium a more rewarding endeavor than a slice of hyped up reality. I feel very akin philosophically to painters who were not needed for reality (because of the camera) and could start exploring the nature of their medium.

— Bob Asman

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