Art is often said to be a lens through which we look at the world. It is not the world itself, not reality, but a recreation of it. A lens itself is something that stands between us and we what we observe offering an interpretation. Photographs, paintings, movies, literature, and other forms of art are ways of viewing and showing. San Francisco artist Greg Gandy turns that lens on its head, figuratively and literally, by painting other lenses. His art is a lens shows a lens that is really, just a lens.
Take “Three Projectors” for example, this painting (and yes, all of his work are paintings!) portrays, as the title suggests, three film projectors. Seems simple. We could marvel only at the technique and skill of these photo-realistic paintings. Yes, the detail is incredible but there is something else going on here, something deeper we can marvel at than just the mastery of paint. The three projectors are facing us, we look into their lenses. We are looking at a lens (the lens of art) that is looking back. We understand that these projectors show films, reels of images animated into being through quick succession of still frames. These objects take still images, like this painting, and make them move, becoming alive in a sense.
Greg’s paintings provide subtle reworkings of art as a lens. On the surface, that is literally what this painting is, but deeper we begin to see lenses that look back. We see lenses that show that we, the viewer, may be the film they are projecting. Yes, it could be read on a very meta level, that we are looking at an image(lens) of a lens that is looking back at us through a lens. It may be a big joke of Gandy’s, to create gorgeous paintings that create a meta reading of spiraling lenses. It may be that he just liked the way these old projectors looked and he wanted to paint them. It may also be that something happens when we look at art, besides Gandy’s, all art. At some level it may be that it is not just a lens for us but that it looks back. Art may portray us, the viewer, more than we think.
View more at Greggandy.com