“Being a Painter in the Digital Media Age”

posted by – 09/08/16 @ 12:50pm

Artnet news published a beautifully written recount of an interview with young contemporary painter, Jessie Edelman, on being a painter in the digital media age.

Edelman’s painting is primarily influenced by impressionism – a genre of painting that deeply inspired her upon visiting the Art Institute of Chicago at a young age.  She uses this alongside her own unique brand of figuration to express emotion and contemplation on her textured canvases.  She describes her work as “painterly,” purposely exploring the materiality of her paint, leaving evidence of human touch.  In what Walter Benjamin described as “The Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Edelman maintains her historic roots to combat the mechanization of imagery.  As Impressionists were exploring what it meant to paint with the birth of photography, Edelman contemplates what it means to create paintings in the age of social media.  She utilizes Instagram as a source of references for paintings, in which she often depicts figures sans technology – either bored of or engaged with the scenery.

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Edelman gives a mature reflection on how our phones drastically change the way we view the world.  We swipe through images, seldom ever appreciating their beauty for long, constantly cycling ahead for more content.  In Edelman’s paintings, the figures experience what she describes as “melancholia,” or a separation from the environment they find themselves in. The full Artnet article can be read here.

 

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Knowing her interest in how digital media affects our lives, this melancholy theme in her work leaves viewers to wonder whether their sense of detachment stems from simple contemplation, or their lack of digital media.  The paradox of social media is highlighted: It is meant for connection and sharing information, but it often distracts us from purer elements of living.  It even strips us of true alone time.  Are we truly disconnected without our phones? Has the age of digital media completely changed the way we interact with the real world?

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