by James D. Campbell
Jessica Eaton, a fast-rising star in the photographic world, has for some time now explored the notion of “colour is a verb” with rare verve, intensity, and thematic abandon. In her recent dovetailing series of works shown at Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran in Montreal as part of an exhibition aptly titled Transmutations,1 Eaton, already celebrated as a doyenne of colour theory, shows that she is preternaturally alert to the morphologies of colour as they occur across the breadth of the visible, and that she easily has a handle on their vast bandwidth. She seizes upon the moment of maximum visual gain with exquisite gravitas, and the sheer vivacity of chroma in her work has few equals or antecedents. The level of formal invention is high, and the results intoxicating.
A resolute seeker, her large-format film camera firmly in hand, she has developed a truly unique and compelling practice in pursuit of previously undisclosed secrets of colour. Without any handy bag of digital tricks, this supremely resourceful artist interrogates the medium of photography itself, deconstructing its essentials and underpinnings and bringing back from the margins where they had lain fallow what had once been its comfortably ostracized possibilities.
In her recent exhibition at Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran, Eaton selected captivating extracts from three new bodies of work, each with its own redoubtably heuristic core. She proceeds according to a trial-and-error methodology, deeply experiential and intuitive in its mien. The first series, Pictures for Women, is a hypnotic and moving homage to female artists through the use of kinetic sets and her signature experimental camera techniques. The pictures from the Revolutions series are also kinetically staged and set against black backgrounds, with colours that emerge from monochromatic grey-scale patterns finessed by the artist through her trademark colour-separation techniques. In the Transition series, following hard upon her acclaimed series Cubes for Albers and LeWitt (cfaal), she again employs additive colour techniques and staggered multiple exposures to produce ever more intricate, radiantly saturated geometries.
The standout here is the selection from the remarkable Pictures for Women series. Here, Eaton culls the punctum from a work by an artist that speaks to her and, through the most exacting technical manoeuvres, distils something like its chromatic essence.
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