(American, born 1971)
acryic on canvas over wood panel, 14 x 14 inches
Artwork courtesy of the Artist
Chris Finley’s dynamic abstractions vividly evoke the velocity and indeterminacy of our post-digital era.
Part of the first generation to grow up with the computer as an integral part of their environment, Finley develops his images with the aid of common software programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, then translates the results onto canvas using traditional painting techniques. This hybrid process, merging the mechanical with the handmade, adds tension and unease to his paintings. Finley’s contorted compositions appear to be self-generating, much like virtual forms in cyber space.
It would be impossible to identify the subject of Giuliani if not for the clue afforded by the title. This is, in fact, a portrait of former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani painted in 2007, when he was vying for the Republican presidential nomination. It was part of an extensive series of candidate portraits titled Power Sources which also included paintings of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. To create this image, Finley downloaded a photo of the politician from the web and digitally distorted it to an extreme, almost comical, degree. While the final result lacks any recognizable features of the man, its twirling, frenetic forms suggest Giuliani’s ferocious energy by abstract means.
While Chris Finley’s innovative approach is firmly ensconced in a 21st century worldview, it has roots in avant garde art from a century prior. In particular, Giuliani seems to consciously reference Marcel Duchamp’s cubist paintings, such as Nude Descending a Staircase, which in their own time signaled equally jarring notions about space and time within the tradition of painting.
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