Western Project

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Samantha Fields, ArtScene, March 2012

March 2012 ArtScene by Marlena Donohue


Imagine how the world looks as you drive in a moderated rain and see your environment through wet glass as you drive relentlessly from the eerie glow of busy streetlights to the quiet darkness of some shrouded woods. That is the way it feels to see the airbrush perfect paintings of Samantha Fields. Fields takes literally thousands of photos of locales – urban, unpeopled – and archives these for later culling to become the subjects of these canvases. "Subject" must be used gingerly here as the manner in which Fields reconstitutes the scenes has the minutest relationship to the L.A. sunsets or the forested spaces in the record. She has mastered pigment so that she achieves these animate, moist surfaces recalling something akin to Renaissance varnishing, but then hides what she depicts in an almost milky veil. The effect is precisely like the world viewed in motion and through liquid. This tension makes for images that hang between things we know and things barely recalled. The paintings are able to call up something so specific and loaded as city lights seen from afar (with all the alienation that urban trope raises in us) and something so generic as the inscrutable constancy of nature; this has been done so much that Fields' credit is the freshness and believability she can still wrest fro this betwixt-between format and its related speculations (Western Project, Culver City)