Masks & Skulls, from the ongoing Infinity series, is photo-collage made seamless by setting the camera’s focusing ring on infinity. This sleight of hand allows me to conjure a mysterious world that hovers between the real and the abstract. It is a world just beyond our grasp that might exist in memory, in dreams, or perhaps, in a parallel universe yet unvisited.
I choose simple concrete objects, skulls and primitive masks, for their powerful, symbolic associations of fear and death — what Andre Malraux called “the night side of man” – and subtly shift their meaning by transforming them through a process of blurring and coloring. The resulting abstractions have a nuanced resonance that holds some of the residual dark power of the original object, but is softened, both literally and figuratively, into something illusory and weightless. It is my hope that this transformation from object to abstraction will strike an unexpected balance between terror and beauty; and in that precarious tension the viewer, caught off guard, will become free to respond emotionally, catching a glimpse into something beyond his/her expectation.
At the same time, the subject of these collages is color. Extreme de-focusing enables me to blend and distill hues, creating rhapsodies ofcolor that are meditative pieces–glimpses into a space of pure color, beyond our focus, beyond our ken.
Bill Armstrong, who lives and works in NYC, graduated magna cum laude from Boston University where he studied art history. His work has been presented in solo shows at the Joel Soroka Gallery in Aspen, Colorado; An American Space Gallery in NYC; and the International Center for Photography Education Gallery, also in NYC. Additionally Armstrong has had recent group exhibitions at the Houston Center for Photography, P.S. 122 in NYC, Robert Klein Gallery in Boston, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American Art in Washington DC, and has been included in the tour of the exhibit, Here Is New York. His work is in collections at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, and has been featured in the Boston Globe and the Village Voice.