Monday, April 18, 2011

pink; person with guitar (pink)

Person With Guitar (2004) is instantly recognizable as a work by John Baldessari. Baldessari is a Los Angeles based artist who has taught at both CAL Arts and UCLA since 1970 and is a prominent figure in the Los Angeles art community. He is best known for his collages where parts of the photos are covered up or cut out. 

Baldessari started using found images because he couldn't be bothered going out to take a photo of something specifically if it already existed, wanting the image as a signifier rather than a reproduction of a specific thing. He began by using images of film stills and soon began to cover the faces of the people in these images that were lying around his studio as he felt they had a presence. 

This lead him to cutting out or covering up other parts of the image to create a dialogue that was ambiguous. Here, in Person With Guitar, we see such an example. By the removal of the actual guitar, the shape of the object is left behind. We may not see the detail of the guitar but we certainly know that it once existed within the pink shape. By highlighting the empty space with a striking pink colour Baldessari leaves us, as the viewer, to 'fill in the gaps', so to speak. Because of it's anonymity, we create our own story of what is going on within the image and relate it back to our own experiences which results in a much more personal interpretation.

By the removal of detail or the bringing of our attention to it, Baldessari uses the power of the image to question our own interpretations of the image itself and our preconceived ideas surrounding an image when we first glance at one. He makes us think more deeply about the power of the image by simply creating an absence of what we expect will be there and as a result, challenges our expectations of how an image should function.

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