Specter’s Ad Takeovers Signal a New Direction Toward Photography and Abstraction, for now
A curator at a major American museum told us this weekend that he’s discovered there are two major categories of great artists: the first one hits on a great idea or process or technique and stays with it throughout the rest of their career, employing the creative spirit to evolve and reinforce the same idea again and again. The second artist type is more taken with the creative spirit itself and moves nimbly from one technique or process or discipline to another, exploring and experimenting with new approaches, discovering and often mastering one after another.
Specter appears to be the latter.
Only five years ago Specter was a realist painter who wheatpasted his large labor intensive portraits of people who collect scrap metal and other materials in New York neighborhoods. These social studies captured hours of time in studio carefully rendering and depicting – and when the enormous works appeared across old signage or construction walls, you felt like you had just run into someone you knew.
Other more sculptural installations were still lifes and ready-made in nature, employing shopping carts, bottles, hardcover books. Specter is not afraid to experiment with new mediums and messages and to carry them to fruition.
In the last year or so Specter began a much more conceptual and abstract series of bus stop takeovers using his own photography. Less obvious in their meaning, they nonetheless are contextual – often reflecting, refracting, relating to the geometry and perspectives of their location. Easy to miss as Street Art installations, they can be arresting as well – especially when you realize they may be mimicking their immediate surroundings…and that they are not selling you shampoo. Some times you realize he has ingeniously taken the street you are standing on and tilted it into a parallel world – which you may or may not occupy.
As a one-off, we were a little intrigued about this new creative direction for Specter. Now that time has passed and we have a little collection gathered of these installations, we can see that he is helping us see the city differently once again.
Specter. All photos © Jaime Rojo
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