Tunnel Vision (diptych)

These paintings explore the idea of memory and sentimentality. In a world that changes swiftly all around us there is a tendency to hold onto something of the past to keep ourselves grounded and centered. But our nostalgia is deceptive, as memories also change. They morph with different events and fade with time, until they appear more like a foggy dream rather than a lived experience. With these paintings I try to depict a memory in motion. One that is changing as the result of external forces but hasn’t yet been completely lost.

Semantic vs. Episodic

Semantic vs. Episodic, refers to the two different types of memory that we have. Semantic memory refers to a portion of long-term memory, which processes ideas and concepts that are not drawn from personal experience. This includes things that are common knowledge and information that helps us understand the gist of what something is. Episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events, which includes specific information such as who, what, where, when, why. This type of memory is a collection of past personal experiences. With this series of work I wanted to explore the concepts and dualities of semantic and episodic memory visually, using photographs taken from my family’s photo album and using the knowledge I have of the stories that accompany them. My goal was to try to capture the essence of what a memory truly looks like on paper. I was experimenting with a mixture of ink, pigment powder, vegetable oil, and water to create an abstracted, organic, uncontrolled background within each image. The foreground is composed of a structured, representational, image drawn from the photograph. But neither the background nor foreground are completely separate from each other, they sometimes dissolve into one another. This again relates back to the different types of memory we have, one being a collection of more general abstract notions and the other more detailed and clear but not 100% accurate account of the past. Working with these non-archival materials also allows me to explore how these images will age and eventually disintegrate with time, like real memory.

Abstract Elements

With this series I was exploring the concept of photogenic abstraction. Which is the creation of abstract imagery based on photography. These three paintings focus on colors and organic shapes that are pulled out of the natural world and represented in an unnatural way. I layered photographic images of plant material, light reflecting on glass, and images of water to create these paintings. These different elements are reminiscent of the elements of earth, wind, fire, and water. The paintings show abstraction as a matter of perception, that if you take elements from real life, break them down and resemble them, you end up with an abstract image. But this image is not imaginary its still very much a representation of reality.

Environments of Illusion and Representation

This series of ink drawings explores the idea of memory through layered landscapes creating these dream like spaces that feel real but have something not quite right about them, creating a sense of familiarity with something non existent. I use my own travel photographs to create these dreamlike, colorful scenes. Like a mirage they are an illusion within a landscape that makes things appear where they don’t belong. Landscapes and environments are especially blended in memory and in dreams, they bleed into one another, but that feeling of realness and familiarity stays the same regardless of the amount of distortion.

Re-Examining The Landscape

This ink drawing was based off of a photograph as a means of exploring how digital media can be used as a resource for drawing and painting. After mapping out the sketch for this landscape based on the original photograph, I decide to zoom in on the photograph and work on the drawing in small sections, and I would not allow myself to view the image in its entirety until the drawing was complete. By zooming in on the photograph on a computer, seeing the pixilation and shifts of colour on such a small scale, I was able to work my abstractly and create a level on distortion in the image that when finally completed would otherwise look realistic. My goal with this drawing was not to create a realistic image based on a photograph, but rather to break the image up and examine each and every piece before putting it back together again. I wanted to see the abstract shapes and colours that exist in nature that normally go unnoticed. 

Visions of Memory

With this series I wanted to visually express flashes of memory, as I believe they exist in our minds. These flashes of memory are like photographic snapshots mixed with dreams and emotions, which exist only momentarily before fading way or transforming into something else.  In my mind they are like precious uncut gems, bright, colourful, reflective, and waiting to be transformed into something else. To represent this idea I took old family photographs and abstracted them in away that gave me the least amount of control over how it is abstracted. I did this by placing the photographs under a transparent glass bowl, which has a reflective, metallic design on it. The photographs remained visible, but the metallic designs reflected the colors and the light in the room in a way that is unpredictable. This creates the unique, colourful shadow shapes over top the image, which makes them appear very dreamlike. These shapes of color also expand out of the painting’s black boards like the way light emits out from a photo light box display. I used this process because I felt it best represented my belief that memory is something can be experienced but not controlled. 

Toronto, ON, Canada | melissapatelart@gmail.com |