Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., Ted Kincaid grew up in Dallas from the third grade on. And the pattern was always the same. “I was the kid who got in trouble for drawing all the time,” says Kincaid, 47. “I would turn in papers in elementary school with drawing all over them. And somewhere in the middle of it was my homework.”
One could, on seeing Ted Kincaid’s photos at Devin Borden Gallery, be tempted into a conversation on the authenticity of photography. But that conversation would be old hat. What interests me is that these highly manipulated images are not obviously double-coded. They aren’t images of things and about being images of things. They generally lack irony.
Dallas-based artist Ted Kincaid, who creates ethereally beautiful, landscape-recalling photographic-type images, has two passions- nature and history- and his work rarely diverts from those themes. Ships disappear into storms, listing in the waves; vibrant clouds display otherworldly hues; tree branches form impossible webs, veiling the forest.
In December, New Orleans is brimming with art events including Prospect.2, photo shows at PhotoNOLA’s array of gallery shows and the architecture expo DesCours, presented by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It’s a bit much. Among the photography shows, Arthur Roger Gallery got a jump start with Ted Kincaid’s archaic looking land, sea and sky scenes resembling 19th century “wet-plate” photographs, a process prized for its poetic imperfections, but Kincaid’s work is mostly digital. Here the landscapes are dramatically otherworldly, as if some 19th century romantic artist like Alfred Bierstadt had suffered many darkroom mishaps but still got some occasionally inspired results.
Visual art does not emerge from a void. Instead, it is bound by its own history and the temper of its time. In fact, now more then ever, art is riddled with cultural references—cues one must recognize in order to register the full measure of an artist’s intent. Such references can be arcane and idiosyncratic à la Matthew Barney, or retrograde and comical like George Condo.
The Dallas-based digital artist has for 20 years been recognizable for his uplifting, vibrantly colorful digital cloudscapes (one of his “thunderhead” clouds was shown earlier this year at the Dallas Museum of Art). But his latest exhibition, on display through July 17 at the Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans, resonates with a profound sense of loss and melancholy.
The photo-based work of Ted Kincaid may itself be an illustration. For one thing, his medium, perhaps more than any other, proves the disparity between what we see and what we think we see.
Art: Creator of highly manipulated photographs of clouds and trees that he hangs in suites. He presents the individual photographs in interdependent grids that tend to generate sales of multiple images to single collectors.
Ted Kinkaid invents unrealities through photograph, and in the process he reinvents the medium. If the photograph has always been about a negotiation between the original and the copy, reality and the ersatz, Kinkaid’s re-embodiment of the photographic image takes heed of only part of the equation.