“The photograph in a book is, obviously, the image of an image,” wrote Susan Sontag in her influential essay, “On Photography.” “But since it is, to begin with, a printed, smooth object, a photograph loses much less of its essential quality when reproduced in a book than a painting does.”
But what, really, is lost when we view an image of an image? Or, rather, when we move further from the original material and closer to abstraction? The Bronx Museum of the Arts’s new exhibition, “Rochelle Feinstein: Image of an Image,” presents this abstraction not as an end result or as a loss, but as a starting point.
Spanning several mediums and decades, artist Rochelle Feinstein’s work transforms real events, such as the Iraq War and the 2008 financial crisis, into striking paintings that utilize photographs, fabric, Xerox prints, cardboard and text.
Take, for example, “Love Vibe” (1999-2014), which Feinstein explained in an interview draws on the oft-spoke phrase in the art world, “love your work.” The phrase, reprinted and reversed over six panels, is abstracted into an image of itself — or, effectively, into an image of an image.
“Whatever the source of these words and phrases, each is a form of communication, or miscommunication, commonplace speech, colloquialisms, clichés that are lacking in emotion,” said Feinstein in an interview with Ines Goldbach. “If I’m lucky, they often stage my paintings.”
“Rochelle Feinstein: Image of an Image,” the first comprehensive survey of Feinstein’s work to be shown in the United States, runs through March 3, 2019.