John Marin gathers a new collection of portraits that capture subjects in the haunting dark, setting individuals against a shroud of mystery in the vastness of the unknown. Rendered in monochrome, these portraits are defined by harsh tonal contrasts that make subjects appear to emerge out of pitch blackness, or hiding in it. As representations of personalities, the compositions are distilled to variations in tones, which offer a more dramatic profiling of an individual’s identity. Such approach also resonates with the classic associations of the phenomenon of light and dark with opposing states of the individual: darkness with states of confusion, chaos and being lost—and its opposite, light, with self-realization and enlightenment. These are states that confront every individual; natural forces that shape human experience and interaction. Elements of light and dark are further articulated by subtle textures of cracks and scratches, suggesting other factors at play that disturb perfectly smooth outward appearances and surfaces.
In this experimentation with the formal and symbolic potentials of light and dark, the artist highlights the mutually-arising and interdependent nature of light and dark even as metaphors for the internal struggles of the self—that it could be in times of darkness that one achieves more insights and it is a requisite to shed light on the deepest questions and riddles of life. At the same time, seeing under glaring light may not necessarily lead to clarity of vision, for it could also be blinding and distort a fuller understating of reality.
Curated by Ruel N. Caasi