Keith Downie

Master of Arts (Community and Family Counseling), Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting), Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Studio Art Faculty: Muskegon Community College

Lecturer: Muskegon Museum of Art

“My current work simultaneously embraces and questions the notion of aesthetic beauty. Where does that beauty exist? In the object, or on its surface? In the artifact’s history and symbolism? In the experience of the individual viewer, or in the shared admiration of the artifact?

In contemporary digitized culture the beauty of fine art objects exists most readily on the backlit screens of our computers. I have viewed---in person---thousands of artworks over the course of my life. Yet, I will never visit a fraction of the art objects I have seen and studied on a computer. Due to the superb quality of modern photographic technology there are instances when one can legitimately assert that the digital image of an artwork is as informative---conceptually---as being in front of the object itself (though, perhaps, not as satisfying emotionally or somatically).

The paintings that I am currently making include depictions of fine art objects and antiquities appropriated from museum and gallery websites. These artifacts are significant but relatively obscure artworks, not textbook-pieces. They are hand crafted antiquities, converted into photographs, and then re-crafted by me in the form of a painting---artifact into photo-facsimile into painted-facsimile.

I paint the objects faithfully from their photo-images. I relish the inherent beauty of the artifact; however, to emphasize the now simulated nature of this artifact, I extend the artifice one step further by painting yet another fiction in the background of the image. The wood plank stripes that comprise the ground of the painting are themselves an imitation; a faux grain texture made with a decorator’s tool. Planks of alternating colors and values emphasize the flatness of the painting plane and extend the decorative nature of the floating artifact. Decoration upon decoration. Fiction upon fiction.”

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