John Opera: The States Project: Illinois
John Opera’s images are personal and poetic, resting somewhere between memory and meditation. Opera’s haunting images–some of which even disappear before our eyes–mine the photographic processes for their potential for latency rather than truth as documents.
John Opera was born in Buffalo, New York. He earned his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005. His work has been the subject of a two-person exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (2011) and is featured in the second volume of MP3, co-published by Aperture and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2008). His recent solo exhibitions include Higher Pictures, New York (2015) and Loudhailer Gallery, Los Angeles (2014) as well as group exhibitions at Transformer Station, Cleveland (2016), Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago (2016), and Glass Curtain Gallery, Chicago (2016). He is currently represented by Higher Pictures, New York. Opera lives and works in Chicago.
My current research as a photo-based artist can be characterized by a shift away from the reliance on the photograph purely as image to an examination of the threshold between image and surface and its metaphorical equivalence to the relationship between observation and imagining. As a result of this shift, I have moved away from straight inkjet printing towards a more holistic and varied approach to the broader history of photographic image-making materials and processes. The very notion of printing has become more elemental and more primal. My goal throughout this experiment has involved, at once, questioning what constitutes photographic/observed space/surface, and also a provocative extension of the investigation into how photography both records and incorporates natural processes and phenomena.
The cyanotype works arrive at images through liquid chemical processes that were discontinued early on in photography’s history, except to be repurposed in the 20th century for architectural blueprints and the language of schematics. The results are works that are certainly photographic, but possess an unusual visual quality that directly connects to their inherent chemical properties. They are also produced on stretched canvases, further separating them from the traditional experience of a photograph.
The references are broad and varied—melted blinds, telescopic pinhole views of the sun, holes, ropes, hands, fossils. The lack of strict categories within the collection of subjects reflects back onto the ontological state of the pieces themselves—they are not exactly photographs and not exactly paintings, although their appearance and physical presence owe much to both photographic space and the less stringent qualities of painting space.
Collectively, the images contain references to seeing, time, memory, and to representation itself. The collection of subjects simultaneously functions both as a set of broad signifiers for the generic human experience, while also remaining mysteriously personal in its conceptual associations.
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Myra Greene: The States Project: IllinoisSeptember 25th, 2016
Jessica Labatte: The States Project: IllinoisSeptember 24th, 2016
John Opera: The States Project: IllinoisSeptember 23rd, 2016
Paul D’Amato: The States Project: IllinoisSeptember 22nd, 2016
Krista Wortendyke: The States Project: IllinoisSeptember 21st, 2016