As part of OutCentral’s monthly program devoted to visual artists, photographer and artist George Oeser will premiere his new exhibit, “Addictions, Destinations, and Violations,” beginning in January. Exploring dark themes of addiction, false memories, and the minimalist Dutch stylings of De Stijl, the show will feature two galleries of photography (titled “Addictions” and “Destinations”) and one comprised solely of digital art (“Violations”).
Born and raised in Nashville, Oeser has had a life-long love for abstract art and photography. In high school he toyed with archaic cameras, and taught himself the fundamentals of still photography, whilst utilizing unconventional, artistic processes. When he relocated to Europe in his youth, a passion for modern art and architecture was rekindled, as well as a desire to dive deeper into digital manipulation.
What came out of this submerging was a focus less directed toward artistic perfection, and more toward creating works fueled with emotional impact. His style is bold, colorful, but often blunt in its execution. One image from his first exhibit, Addictions, shows a smart phone flanked by syringes against a stark, asphalt background. The message is immediate, maybe even a little ham-fisted, but effective in its assertion that we are an age not only of distraction, but also of unseen addictive tendencies.
Alcohol, cigarettes, heroin—these substances are what we talk about when we talk about addiction. But for some an addiction might be sugar, an iPhone, an all too engrossing video game, or indulging in endless amounts of exercise. All of us in some form or another are addicts. To Oeser, the difference depends solely on social acceptability. All of the images in Addictions signify that we should not only be aware of addiction’s ubiquity, but that any form of pleasure is capable of dominating our lives.
Oeser’s art resides in digitally warped realities. In his second series, Destinations, shots of cozy travel locales are modified into hazy, dreamlike landscapes, recalling in an Instagram-like fashion the allusive and deceptive nature of memory. Memories after all are like stories, past events manipulated with dramatic liberties to make things more interesting. In one picture Oeser darkens and pinks a picture of a Berlin tower to make it feel more ambient and emotive. In another, London’s famous Ferris wheel is turned into a frigid, yet oddly peaceful, wall of shadowed blues.
“No one wants their memories or stories to be dull and pedestrian,” writes Oeser on his website. “Since the photos are no longer 100% accurate representations of what I have seen and where I have been, they stop representing just my memories, even my false memories. They are now available for producing false memories for everyone. If you have been to any of the places in my images they may very well change how you remember these places. It may even be possible that they will change how someone sees these places when they arrive at them for the first time. They may instill future false memories, only time will tell.”
De Stijl (pronounced ‘duh style’) is a style that seeks beauty in reduction. Originating in the early 20th century, it used only the purest forms of shape and color to create a strict language of primary hues and vertical lines. De Stijl was, in other words, a movement for people who loved following rules.
The pieces in Violation¸ Oeser’s collection of digital art, likewise pay due respect to the abiding of rules, but they also acknowledge the importance of breaking them. The Piet Mondrian influence in these pictures is more than obvious, but Mondrian never would have incorporated photos of Abe Lincoln into his small little boxes. He had a hard enough time mixing two colors together.
Described by Oeser as “part tribute and part insult” these works at times breach the lines between puritanical and punk, referencing two worlds that couldn’t be more opposite. “These pieces bend and break and violate the rules of De Stijl,” writes Oeser. ”They offer a somewhat different perspective on the world than De Stijl intended, but they still fit into the mold that was created back in 1917.”
Addictions, Destinations, and Violations will fuse three distinct ideas into one eclectic showcase, threaded only by Oeser’s interest in artistic creation and technology. Like much of modern art, the works here muse, not only on the subject, but on the process of creating itself, commenting at the same time on technology’s role as a perception shifter and a memory distorter. Oeser’s style is simply a contemplative reflection on what we do with our I-phones every day. What are we really doing when we alter pictures on our Instagram accounts? Altering our images or altering our minds?
A reception for Addictions, Destinations, and Violations will be held Saturday, January 9th, from 6–9 p.m. at OutCentral. The exhibit will remain on display throughout January 2016.