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Photosynthesis Statement | 2016

I begin in the pitch dark with a question, "Where am I when remembering?"

I then conjure and hold onto a memory and attempt to trace it onto the canvas in absolute darkness. The mnemonic spaces in these paintings are places that I have called home, places where I have worked, and spaces within hospitals. The houseplants that wind their way through the compositions are mementos, purchased on each anniversary of the loss of our baby daughter, Angelica.

These paintings are a way of making sense of change – those life and death moments that throw us off balance, or send us spinning out of control altogether. So, I throw myself off balance while making the paintings by turning them 90 degrees clockwise through the painting process.

Drips and gravity are prominent in the Photosynthesis paintings. When rotating the paintings I also alter the direction of dripping paint – reversing gravity and turning spaces on their heads. I re-work these compositions in this way until they reach a moment when I can imagine myself floating, weightless in front of them, not knowing which way is up or down. There is a weight to grief - it has its own particular gravity. These paintings are an attempt to escape that gravitational force, and an attempt to breathe life into a medium that has encountered its own mortality.

Jeff Nye, 2016

Postscript... In addition to the personal narratives that are played out in the studio, I am also grappling with questions relating to the creation and reception of paintings. I am particularly interested in the question, "When is a painting ever finished?". Despite the autobiographical elements that are embedded in these paintings, their meaning is only realized through a dialogue with the viewer. And that shared aspect of meaning is not one that I can predict or impose. Their meanings even shift for me as I encounter the paintings at different stages of life. As long as they are within the studio they are subject to reinterpretation and can potentially be reworked until I am no longer around to rework them.