Los Angeles-based artist Anthony Pearson (b. 1969) is well-known for his highly formalized and sensitive use of process and materials. As a young artist, Pearson became familiar with the camera apparatus and trained as a photographer throughout the 1990s. Interested in the formal limits of photography, he developed a visual vocabulary rooted in abstraction and experimented with a variety of materials. Pearson approached photography less as a tool of documentation and more as a means through which to engage and activate light and form.
Pearson’s photographic series of Color Reflections, produced between 2007-2010, utilized the camera lens to explore the nuances and balances between positive and negative, lightness and darkness. The process behind these works began with brightly colored paint, applied directly onto a sunlit wall of his studio in downtown Los Angeles. Once satisfied with the painting, Pearson mounted sheets of aluminum foil onto an opposing wall and photographed the resulting reflections of light and color as they beamed onto the aluminum. Each photograph is identical in process, scale and frame but, viewed in succession, they offer a rich diversity of shades, tones and forms.
As Pearson describes, Color Reflections “present a spatial depth and a confusion of surface quality; because the sun and painted wall occupy the entirety of the image, the depicted surfaces appear to be something other than just sheets of aluminum foil.” The process itself refers us back to the science of seeing and capturing images, recognizing the integral role of the sun in the photographic process. And yet, these works also remind us of the very limits of our own perception and visual understanding.
This focus on the optics and artistic potential of light places Pearson firmly within the legacy of California’s Light and Space Movement. As a native Southern Californian, the influence of its landscape has undeniably informed Pearson’s sensitive ability to capture the experience of light within its shifting environments.
Beyond its meaningful relation to his artistic practice, the community of Los Angeles has also always been of great personal significance to Pearson, who has called California his home since birth. The artist and his family have been working on a weekly basis since March on a continual drive to combat food insecurity in South Los Angeles, where joblessness has exploded since the start of the pandemic. Ten percent of proceeds from this online exhibition will be donated to RTLA Church via the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.