Onlooker

Catherine Christiano, Onlooker,  2011, oil on canvas, 60 x 36 inches. Photo credit Paul Mutino.
Catherine Christiano, Onlooker, 2011, oil on canvas, 60 x 36 inches. Photo credit Paul Mutino.

ONLOOKER
STATEMENT

Gardens are created for our visual delight and as visitors we expect to enjoy their pleasures without restriction. However, within this garden our gaze is met by that of an artist. It is a self-portrait that has been clearly crafted, like most portraits (and like many gardens), for the gaze of the public. As viewers of art or gardens we assume that we have unlimited access to gaze upon them. Yet we may not expect to be confronted with our own action. Here, in Onlooker, our presence is implied by the pose of the artist, who during the course of her work looks directly out at the viewer. The viewer's role is ambiguous but is clearly a part of the painting. Likewise, the artist's image is equally ambiguous. What is the subject of this painting? Is it about the artist, the viewer, the garden, or perhaps our roles as onlookers or recorders and interpreters of the visual world?

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