Can Your Eyes Be Trusted

Can Your Eyes Be Trusted

Increasingly, our interface with the world is through a pane of glass. With enormous frequency, we're either in a car or transfixed by our smart phones. To the artist, the division between spaces and people is an interesting concept.

BC artist Ben Reeves is captivated by modern perspectives on our world. The first time I saw one of Ben's paintings, it took me several seconds to realize what I was looking at. The realization arrived like a sudden collision:
the vague shapes in the painting were … pedestrians! It came to me the same way pedestrians are often perceived by drivers: unexpectedly, a brake-jarring surprise.
Reeves captures not only the climate of the Pacific Northwest, but the ghostly apparitions that we've become accustomed to dealing with. Even without darkness and rain, pedestrians become abstractions at the perimeter of our perception. Just how many times have you said, "I didn't even see that person!" Both as a pedestrian and a driver, I'm often surprised by how many close calls I encounter or witness.
His paintings illustrate the ambiguous nature of shapes perceived through a rain-dappled windshield. They are reminders of how we spend a significant portion of our lives: commuting. But as fascinating as trompe l'oeil is on a canvas, it's deadly on the streets. One needs to be actively engaged in seeing - really taking in and reacting - in order to arrive home safely.

In upcoming blogs, I'll be talking about optical science. The big, scary news in vision is more complicated than you'd have thought possible. These days, we factor in speed, haste, densities, and distraction and expect our eyes to make perfect and timely sense of everything around us. It's a lot to ask. And it goes wrong far too often.

I hope you'll enjoy the selection of Ben Reeve's work included here with the artist's permission.

Ben Reeves is represented by the Equinox Gallery Vancouver.

Be Safe. Be Seen.


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