I was determined to make wood my partner, my foil—simultaneously wedded to and distinct from the image—and to assert the objectness of the photograph as a central aspect of the viewer’s experience. …. I wanted to dig deeper—to create a “problem” out of the substrate that would require a different approach to the image. I wanted to trip myself, and hopefully the medium, into something new.
— Clifford Ross, Photography and Wood: The Odd Couple
Clifford Ross in Discussion and Video Walkthrough
RYAN LEE is pleased to present Clifford Ross: Prints on Wood, an exhibition of new photo-based images in which the artist pursues his long-standing interest in capturing the sublime in nature by printing on hand-selected wood veneer. These include stark black and white negatives of details taken from his high-resolution color photographs of Mount Sopris, as well as dramatic crops of his black and white hurricane wave photographs. The altered images, in combination with the varied color and texture of the wood as a substrate, add drama and a distinctly non-photographic quality to Ross’s compositions, pushing his work toward the realms of drawing and painting, a return of sorts to his original media.
I’ve been missing the materiality of paint and canvas and found this mix of imagery and materials propelled my photography into an unexplored place. I was constantly surprised by what I was seeing in the studio. Who doesn’t want to see and experience something new? The new awakes us from our normal state… Nature was appearing before me in an oblique way—like a dream, by suggestion not by declaration. The wood surface foils the transformed imagery, engaging us to decipher anew what we think we know.
In his pursuit of nature’s beauty and the sublime, whether through realism or abstraction, Ross is perpetually at the forefront of the various media with which he has worked. In 2003, he invented the R1 camera, one of the highest resolution film cameras in the world—which he used to capture an expansive view of Mount Sopris. His recent Digital Waves combined advanced computer animation with a new use of LED panels to capture the dramatic movement of ocean waves.
By succumbing to the unfathomable complexity and beauty of nature—from the chaos of a hurricane’s effect on the ocean to the overwhelming mass of details that make up a simple but grand mountain scene—Ross creates works that are, from their subject to their medium, in complete devotion to nature’s wonder. In his manipulation of his subjects and his medium, Ross communicates to the viewer his sense of immense awe of the natural world’s inherent power.
On view at the gallery are unique single wood panel prints made during the last several years. These new works explore isolated details of earlier, monumentally scaled works that range up to an astounding 26 x 114’. Each new work is unique, a singular exploration of image and veneer, utilizing an innovative technique of digital printing.
Ross’s wood prints have been included in solo exhibitions at the Parrish Art Museum, the Boca Raton Museum of Arts, and MASS MoCA. They will also be featured in his next museum exhibit, Clifford Ross: Sightlines, opening at the Portland Museum of Art in October 2021.