Regarding four images in Museum Tower, Dallas Texas, Mike Bianco writes:
"The dialectic between the emergence and refinement of photography and the evolution of painting -from Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism - is well known. From Édouard Manet and Louis Daguerre, to Jackson Pollock and Ansel Adams, the battle for “truth” in an image has long been contested. With the emergence of video and the Internet in the late 20th century, one might argue the fight between the painting and the photograph has collapsed: both mediums now oscillate between hyper-realism and hyper-abstraction. Recent photographic practices, such as those by artists like Barbara Kasten and Walead Beshty, have used the abstracted photograph to deal with the physicality of process associated with the medium; a way of removing the subjective nature of the maker to produce an “honest” image. However, if anything has been proven in recent years, the advent of Photoshop and social networks has taught us one thing about pictures: there are no honest images. This is not to say that all photographers are dishonest; hardly. Rather, the nature of honesty is still up to the maker, despite the truth-telling capability of a lens and a memory card. One such artist playing in the landscape of abstraction and subjective re-presentation is Donald Saxton.
Saxton, a native to the West Coast, has been obsessed with taking pictures his entire life. His father, Stan, who studied with Ansel Adams, gave Saxton his first camera as a young boy. Saxton then went on to study in the bucolic Napa Valley, and eventually in the desert surrounding Arizona State University. Paternal influences were passed down to Saxton, and Ansel Adams’ style and preference of subject matter served as a source of inspiration for Saxton throughout his career. Early works present moody mountaintops and lonely ghost towns; the weight of Saxton’s emotion omnipresent in the framing, light, and textures in the subjects he captured. But Saxton’s recent work has taken a bold departure. His current photographs have traded the composition of the frame for the construction of a subjective image; representation replaced by abstract presentation.
Saxton’s recent photographs are black and white with a striking sense of geometry. The images seem subjectless. The only clear indicator that what we are dealing with is a photograph is visual information that references fabric. However, the fabric has been abstracted. The image does not depict a piece of fabric as we might normally see it; suspended from a curtain, hanging off a torso, etc. Rather, the luminous properties of the fabric have been manipulated in photoshop - flipped, mirrored, or contrastingly pasted to create an abstract construction. In addition, Saxton has introduced additional elements manipulated by the software: a collection of black lines on the left third of the photograph, or perhaps a square section of an image cut out and pasted on another. In sum, the abstracted fabric and postproduction images create an impossible image; a moment literally unperceivable in the world. The creation of the imperceptible is exactly the photograph’s point. Rather than suggest a feeling by capturing a moment, Saxton’s photographs present his sensibilities; an ethereal element that the limits of traditional reportage struggle to convey. As Saxton eloquently puts it: “It’s not what I saw, but how what I saw made me feel.”
Mike Bianco is a curator and visual artist based in Marfa, Texas and Ann Arbor, Michigan. He …received his MA in Curatorial practice from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA. Bianco served as the Curator of New Programs at the John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco, CA, and as the Associate Curator at Ballroom Marfa, In Marfa, Texas. He has founded several alternative arts spaces, curated numerous exhibitions, and has worked with institutions ra.nging from the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas and the Texas Commission on the Arts, to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Venice Biennial, in Venice, Italy.