Blue Star 23: Playing With Time
PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE: ARTISTS LOOKING AT TIME
Throughout time itself, artists, musicians, writers, philosophers, poets, scientists, explorers—you name it—humankind has held a longtime fascination with time. One of the most popular magazines of all time (founded in 1923), in fact, is called Time. Clichés abound: “time immemorial” – “in the nick of time” – “time after time”. Pop culture is loaded with such references: there have been television series like “The Twilight Zone” and “Time Tunnel”; movies like “The Time Machine or “Back to the Future”; and pop songs such as “Time is on My Side”; “More Today Than Yesterday”; “Right Time of the Night”; “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”; and the list goes on and on and on.
Certainly in the 20th-and 21st Centuries, time has been a popular theme for artists wanting to know more about this ever-present intangible. Others simply try to imagine what time looks like. In the late 19th century, Paul Cézanne tilted objects forward in his paintings so viewers could see what something looks like from different spatial or temporal vantage points. In the early 20th century, Giorgio DeChirico and Salvador Dali painted images of clocks, shown either in frozen moments or melting away, as references to the worlds of dreams or the unconscious, where time knows no logic. Over the past few decades, artists working with video and digital technology have been able to slow time down, speed it up, or rearrange slices of real time. Bill Viola’s videos, for example, reduce the pace of movement to such an extent that viewers gain a heightened awareness of relativity and metaphysics.
In this exhibition, which was inspired by my observations of common threads among contemporary artists who live and work in San Antonio, there is a diverse range of approaches to making art. The exhibition includes painting, sculpture, work on paper, photography, video, digital animation, and installation. Yet, all of the artists share an interest in time. Some look at its movements, sequences, and cycles, while others fuse the past with the present. Some take a scientific approach, while others are purely intuitive. While some measure or record time with acute specificity, others remind us of its infinite open-endedness. All in all, their creative endeavors provide much food for thought about yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Visit many times, because before you know it, this exhibition, too, will be history.
David S. Rubin, Guest Curator
David S. Rubin is The Brown Foundation Curator of Contemporary Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art