In Maciek Jasik’s on-going project, Bypassing the Rational, washes of color bleed from soft coral to fuchsia and aquamarine in a painterly approach to the photographic image. I can’t help but let my mind wander when looking at these works; I’m free to make associative correlations, not necessarily photographic in nature, but instead the color field paintings of Mark Rothko or the light installations of James Turrell. Both consider color simple at first glance yet infinitely more complex the longer you look.
Instead of allowing my eyes to fall out of focus with the camera’s lens, I act against my inclinations and focus the gauzy shapes within the frame into rendered arms, legs, hands and feet. What emerges from his diffuse forms transform into figures in some unnamed ethereal bath. Jasik’s subjects, many of which are dancers, appear to drift into being. They are, if anything, not rendered by their specificity, but instead by some universal essence; a gesture of humanness. They are, after all, just bodies in motion not unlike the ancient Greek, Venus de Milo chiseled in stone. But unlike the anatomical accuracy of Greco-Roman sculpture, which emulates a nearly scientific likeness to the human form, Bypassing the Rational, loosens its grip on such distinctions.
It’s easy to suggest that his work sits in the gestalt of a larger conversation within art, not just the photographic medium and the photographers thinking about and contending with abstraction. So it came as no surprise to me when I learned that Jasik is influenced primarily by painters from Francis Bacon to Picasso.
Respectively, Bacon encapsulates motion with violent, elongated brush strokes; and Picasso, intentionally distorts perception by compressing multiple “views” within a single painting, as a way of presenting every angle simultaneously. Jasik, too, has a tactic: a waxy substance is warmed and smeared over the lens to force the viewer’s eyes away from what is being photographed, and instead guiding them toward thinking about how we are seeing.
In ‘The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography’, Lyle Rexer suggests that, “we feel throughout the history of photography a chafing at its limited, an impatience with the mere visuality, and a wish for some more intimate expression of the world’s relation—but one somehow made available through the eyes.” Which I take to mean, that the evidentiary thrust of the photographic can have its shortcomings too. There is, at times, something to be desired when it comes to getting at the essence of a deeper emotional and psychological meaning within the confides of an undistorted image.
When the photograph divests from the pictorial, wholly refusing the clarity that contemporary photographic mechanisms allow for, there’s room to subvert the making of one’s own perception of the world around them.