Mirror painting (2)
Sydney-based artist Coen Young has a practice that flirts with the edge between painting and photography. The abstract Mirror paintings he has produced over recent years have become an artistic signature. They are made by applying silver nitrate directly onto paper that has been coated with other media and chemcials. Once the silver is fixed it is washed in a process akin to printing gelatin silver photographs. The resulting surface is reflective but opaque. It is a mirror that inhibits legibility and thwarts representation. Young’s works conceal more than they reveal but in doing so they alert us to the indeterminacy and elasticity of perception.
Like all of Young’s Mirror paintings, this work implicates the viewer within the composition. We can’t look at it without seeing ourselves and our surrounds duplicated. We admire the luminosity of the surface but keep catching glimpses of our own bodies, warped. Yet this is precisely the point; Young forces us to wrestle with his work. Their material presence, though monumental, is also somewhat withheld. Our attention toggles. The act of looking here is animated, and we – as viewers – become performers. Youngs paintings are never passive. Rather, they play and quietly provoke.
acrylic paint and silver nitrate on paper
240.0 x 145.0 cm
Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors program 2020
Not on display
© Coen Young