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Afterimage Anxiety: Joshua Rose
July 10, 2020 - February 6, 2021
“Perhaps I am just in awe of everything when I settle down to really look at things.” Joshua Rose
The work that I have been pursuing for the past few years reflects two different but related ideas. The first, personal in nature, is a mining and reinventing the past forty years of my visual work. Essentially, I am manipulating memory. As I wrote in a recent self-published pamphlet showcasing sixteen of these recent pieces:
“I read somewhere that when in a museum looking at pictures, one should briefly look at a neutral wall before moving to the next image. This clears the vision of un-noticed afterimages that prevents seeing the new picture clearly and cleanly, an intermezzo for the eyes. That idea stuck with me as does the implication of how we see in general. Everything is filtered through an afterimage of what we saw last. Thoughts are also like this, floating along in one’s mind replacing themselves one after the other in a tenuously linked stream that Buddhists call monkey mind. At times, our attention is so rapt (sic) in this process that we are rendered sightlessly lost in daydream. When we look up at the night sky, we not only see the endless array of lights we know to be stars and such, we also “see” the imposition of space and time inextricably layered in lightyears. This informs the structure of these collages.
A second important aspect of this work is that it is derived from combining images that I have made over the past thirty-five or forty years with a few from as long ago as fifty years. The resultant palimpsest of image-after image is not simply the last thing I looked at but the whole of my life as a practicing artist. It is my autobiography, my studio landscape, a collection of old roads to be re-investigated and re-asserted through re-engagement. It is from this body of drawings, paintings and photographs that I mine the past, manipulate, combine and recombine images and materials to make new work that functions in the present. It is a look at my night sky.”
The second aspect of the work is relatively new for me in that I have never used collage before. My work has always been painting with an unrelated interest in taking photos since I was a teenager. Like all artists, I first recorded my work by taking slides and now by digital images. Over the years I have amassed hundreds of reproductions of drawing and painting and thousands of separate photos. Since 1986, I have used computers and image processing software (Amiga and DPaint) which has been supplanted by many iterations of Photoshop. This allows me to use my images, both of paintings and photos as “brushes.” They are combined, overlapped, subtracted from one another and re-added to arrive at an image that I print on a 24-inch Epson printer.
Usually I attach two prints together to give me a print of 46 inches by whatever length I choose. After that I use the print as a kind of under-painting. I use paint, older work, cut colored paper that I paint myself and miscellaneous stuff like glitter, tape, and sequins to build the piece. This allows me to layer materials mimicking the layering of my memory images. The process takes a long time and affords me the same sense of discovery that the use of just paint does.
— Joshua Rose
About the Artist
Joshua Rose was born 1948 in New York City to parents who had studied painting at both Cooper Union and The Art Students League. He was exposed to art in the museums as well as his father’s paintings at home. In fact, there was never a time that he remembers where he was not aware of art. Growing up, he thought art was a natural occurrence in everybody’s life. His parents made their living as embroidery designers in the garment center, exposing him to the love of patterns, rhinestones, beads, bangles and sequins that figure into his current work.
At fifteen he left school and home to fully experience the city at the beginning of the sixties. At sixteen he went to Israel to live and work on a Kibbutz and at seventeen hitchhiked across Europe before returning to New York. For the next decade he travelled around the United States living in such disparate places as Alaska and Florida.
Eventually he studied art at the University of New Mexico and went on to earn an MFA from Yale in 1981. That same year he started teaching painting and drawing at New Mexico State University where he stayed for the next twenty-seven years, spending the last ten as the art department head (chair). He retired in 2008 and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works full time in his studio and lives with the painter Jacklyn St. Aubyn.