Gwenn Thomas is a New York-based artist whose work examines how photography shapes our contemporary perception of painting. She studied at the Sorbonne, Paris, and graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art, New York.
Gwenn Thomas’ photographs of doors and windows are embedded within sculptural frames in ways that question perceptions of photographic imagery, and our experience of lived space. Her photographs of window frames, exterior and interior architectural spaces initiate portholes into the spaces within. These irregularly shaped photographic objects construct the illusion of actual windows, recalling Marcel Duchamp’s window of 1920. The illusion is assisted by the absence of glass in the framing, opening the window of the photo from the perspective of the viewer. The photographs, with the frame, are the windows themselves.
Thomas’ pigment prints on canvas work uses fabric, drawing fragments, scraps of paper and torn photographs, recycling “out-takes” from previous collage work, to be revisited in a “virtual” context. In works like Dream, Untitled (Dream II – Mirror) and Long Dream, scraps of fabric are relegated to the side and present an empty space of color. Here the nature of the work becomes cyclical, a repetition of the same thoughts in a different perspective.
Her earlier black and white, photo emulsion on linen works began with collages of paper strips, corrugated plastic board and packing tape, which were then photographed and printed on photo-sensitive linen and stretched on canvas to become “paintings.” By isolating grays and blacks, shadows and lights, textures and tones and going back to the very beginning of photography, the resulting play of pattern and space has a depth of field that is both described and denied.
Recent museum exhibitions: Gwenn Thomas: Moments of Place, Point of Contact Gallery at Syracuse University, 2014; Number 6: Flaming Creatures, Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2012-13; Accomplices. The Photographer and the Artist Around 1970, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland, 2011; Gwenn Thomas/Birgit Hein, I was a male Yvonne De Carlo, MUSAC (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León), Spain, 2011. Thomas’ work is represented in major collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum; Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University Library; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; ‘Plates of the Present’ Collection, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; São Schlumberger, Paris; C.A.M. Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal; and Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf, Germany. A survey of Thomas’ work was published by Charta (Milan, Italy) in 2013.
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