Archive | January, 2009

TokesPlace Presents:


Bruce McNeil’s “Between Latitudes”

28 Jan


Photographic artist Bruce McNeil returns to Parish Gallery in a solo show of his latest works titled Between Latitudes.”


The show opens with a reception from 6:00 – 8:00 pm on Friday, February 6, 2009. The show runs through February 28, 2009


Bruce’s characterizes his art as “a combination of traditional photography and abstract impressionism.” He says “I call my work fine art photography in the abstract because I paint with the camera lens; my ‘brush’ captures many layers. I am motivated to depart from reality and into abstraction. My focus is not a matter of clarity and definition. When I am working I am reminded of Japanese flower arranging, which has elements of surprise and where imperfection and imbalance form the perfect. My photography at first glance tells one story but upon further study another story emerges. It is the manifestation of two souls, inhabiting one body simultaneously to communicate ideas and emotions. It is more about steering the viewer’s eyes, guiding their vision to escape from familiar entrenched notions, and diffusing the visual weight of the composition.”

Bruce positions his images along the continuum formed between representative or figurative art and total abstraction. His departure from representation may be only slight, partial, but never complete. Sometimes what appears abstract becomes more representative when viewed another time or upon careful study. In his works he may takes liberties, altering for instance color and form in ways that are conspicuous or subtle. Most of his works comprise both abstract and figurative images.

NOTE: Double clicking on the following images will provide the viewer with a larger view.

Considering abstraction his signature work, Bruce likes to exhibit strong images that may have a shock value. Consider Space Elevator:




While working at the McCord Museum, Montreal, Canada Bruce began developing the technical side of his tool kit by making prints from glass negatives made in the 19th century. He later learned that those 19th century photographers were often trained by paint masters. Thus, began his painterly approach to photography.


I think FISH is an example of his concept of painterly photography:





Some of his images appear, at first blush, to be substantially abstract but careful viewing shows them to be more representative. Consider B&O CANAL:



I have in my collection a variation on this image. It was not as abstract as I thought but I still enjoy the way Bruce positioned it on the representative – abstract continuum.



Reflexion on the Canel also suggests a painterly approach:






Multilayered Voodo Forest conveys surreal shock:

Viewed, upon waking in the middle of the night I would resolve to stop imbibing whatever I had imbibed the night before. However that shock makes me interview it every time I see it.



I hope the images presented in this post stimulate a trip to Bruce’s exhibit. You will enjoy the art and the always stimulating conversation among art lovers. See you there.


Parish Gallery is in Georgetown’s Canal Square, 1054 31St, NW Washington, DC 20007.


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