Critics’ Picks

Arthur Ou, Pt. Reyes, October 21, 2016, 8:34AM, Version 1, 2017, hand-tinted gelatin silver print, 60 x 50".

Arthur Ou, Pt. Reyes, October 21, 2016, 8:34AM, Version 1, 2017, hand-tinted gelatin silver print, 60 x 50".

New York

Arthur Ou

Brennan & Griffin
122 Norfolk Street
October 27–December 10, 2017

Arthur Ou’s photographs here were taken during a single day, from sunup to sundown, at the Point Reyes, California, coast last year. After making a sequence of exposures from the same aerial vantage, the artist tinted each nearly identical analog print with waxed pigment, so that gradations bloom across what would otherwise be an unspectacular seascape. Despite such a deliberate technique, there is a narcotic uncertainty to the photographs, a feeling deepened by the press release’s epigraph from Ludwig Wittgenstein, who remarks that the future “moves not in a straight line, but in a curve, and that its direction constantly changes.” For his current exhibition, premised on infinite possibilities, it is fitting that the works hover between the pictorial and the abstract, painting and photography, reality and fiction. Even the blush of these rhyming seascapes is mercurial in its iridescence, evoking the fickle emotional weather of a mood ring.

Ou’s previous show at this gallery, which displayed fourteen black-and-white portraits of photographers reading Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, sought meaning in the minutest of expressions via reiterations of stillness. This theme continues in “A Day of Times,” which derives a quiet irony from the patience and dedication involved in something many of us do every day: run similar images through different filters, be they technological or psychic. These works combine Warholian replication with an interest in augmenting the American landscape through color—an interest shared by peers such as David Benjamin Sherry, though Ou’s compositions feel markedly disembodied. Each title’s specificity, such as Pt. Reyes, October 21 2016, 8:34AM, Version 1, 2017, reflects little of the pictures’ ambiguity and lunar distance. If you begin to find yourself feeling geographically or philosophically stranded, you might try to think, with Wittgenstein’s words in mind, of the future.