Reduction screen-print portraits
About the Exhibit. . .
In Presence, San Francisco-based artist Jim Winters explores human connection and consciousness. The exhibition’s portraits—more than sixty reduction screenprints—evoke friendship and influence, memory and mourning, and the vast sweep of people, ideas, and emotions that sometimes simmer, sometimes spark in our cognizance.
Shown in the first group of portraits—grey figures on black backgrounds—are members of Winters’ far-flung network of family, friends, and acquaintances. Many of these portraits are based on photographs Winters shot well in advance of this project with the intention of serving as sources for future work. Others represent those with whom Winters reconnected via Facebook and other means after the deaths in 2012 of his father and, later in the year, of the artist’s best friend and former partner.
The second—brown on black—are drawn from Winters experience of visiting Auschwitz in 2013. At Auschwitz, he encountered a wall covered with photographs that were confiscated from those who suffered and died in the notorious concentration camp.
The third group—blue figures on black—are Jewish artists, filmmakers, writers, and performers who captured Winters’ imagination and shaped his own creativity. Among those honored by Winters are artists Diane Arbus, Alex Katz, Cary Leibowitz, Louise Nevelson, Cindy Sherman, and Weegee; gay-rights activist and politician Harvey Milk; performers Scarlett Johansson, Gilda Radner, and Shelley Winters; musicians Philip Glass, Kenny Mellman (The Julie Ruin, Kiki and Herb), Peaches, and Lou Reed; and filmmakers Woody Allen and Todd Haynes (Mildred Pierce, I’m Not There, Far From Heaven, The Velvet Goldmine).
Seemingly disparate, these portraits are united in the great personal meaning they hold for Winters and the opportunity for those who explore Presence to contemplate and consider anew their own human connections and consciousness. The portraits from Auschwitz, and those of notable and influential Jewish-Americans, are charged with associations that are likely to strike the emotional and intellectual chords of viewers. Those of Winters’ family, friends, and acquaintances remind us of those who share our own love and lives.
In the context of the PMJA and its home synagogue, Congregation Rodeph Shalom, Winters’ work speaks to the Jewish people’s singular history of loss and renewal. Also evoked is Judaism’s distinctly structured approach to death and mourning, as exemplified in practices such as shiva (communal visiting with the deceased’s family in the days after burial) and yahrzeit (the recitation of Kaddish, the mourner’s prayer, in the synagogue on the anniversary of a loved one’s death, and the lighting of a candle that burns for twenty-four hours in the mourner’s home, among other practices).
Though hung in precise grids, the specific location of the portraits in Presence is determined by chance. Intermingled, they conjure the complex web of associations that we call “consciousness”; the chance nature of life’s joys and sorrows; and the coexistence of near and far, past and present, absence and presence, and love and loss in our personal and collective psyches.
Presence includes a video showing the exhibition’s portraits, accompanied by music composed and performed by Kenny Mellman. The video was produced by Winters’ partner, Jeff Stallings.
LINK TO VIDEO
“Jim Winters:Presence” organized by Matthew Singer