Simulations is an exhibition of paintings by Jonathan Feldschuh based on scientific imagery—simulations that are typically created by researchers to study complex, chaotic phenomena that cannot be observed directly such as weather systems, nuclear explosions, cosmogenesis, theories of quantum gravity and forces of fluid dynamics. The exhibition also includes a related body of work by the artist, a series entitled Trajectories. Simulations is Feldschuhâ€™s third solo show with the gallery.
Simulations continues the reinterpretation of existing scientific images that Feldschuh began with the Macrocosm series (2002) inspired by NASA satellite imagery. The scope of the paintings ranges from the cosmic (Cold, Dark, 2005) to the stellar (SN1a.1.01, 2004) to the microscopic (DNS#1, 2003). Some of these simulations are created using supercomputers; others are physical simulations, created perhaps on a workbench or in a wind tunnel. The subject of interest is being seen indirectly, a step removed. A further layer of abstraction comes into play when the artist renders the image, as the process of painting echoes the process of simulation. Color is an important element in these paintings. The freedom and responsibility of selecting a palette for an image is both the artistâ€™s and the original scientists’. The artist has chosen colors for the work that reference the original images and at the same time resonate with the richness of color’s meaning in the tradition of painting. In some cases Feldschuh has used a palette that closely replicates the highly saturated “rainbow” palette often used in science.
Trajectories are not based on any specific scientific images, although as a series they are inspired by records of trajectories recorded in particle accelerators. The â€œtrajectoryâ€ forms in the paintings are made by liquid paint which the artist sprays from a bottle in flowing arcs. Like the scientific images they reference, the paintings record spontaneous events that are both representative and unrepeatable.
The acrylic paintings are made using a process that the artist has been developing over the past several years. They are characterized by their smooth gloss finish, and the use of multiple translucent layers. The works are composed mainly of acrylic medium, which the artist pours while the painting is horizontal. He uses wooden panels to support these pours while they are drying. In between these smooth, clear layers, the artist works with various media, including pencil, pen, and dispersed pigments mixed in more acrylic medium. Close inspection of a painting will reveal the structure of the layers, which do not necessarily correspond to the pictorial layering. The final layer or layers are always pure medium, resulting in a uniform glossy surface.