From the Interview with Megan Rodgers:
The series of photographs shown here documents your process from drawing a pencil grid to the finished product. What else should we know about your process?
Well, it’s all drawn and painted by hand - which no one ever believes - so I started recording my process in photos. When I paint from a digital image, I look at the image on a screen and I don’t print it out. It’s important that the colors remain bright so I maintain that feeling of the glowing screen. As the Impressionists and Pointillists and Divisionists discovered, if you keep the colors divided, they remain bright. If you mix them, they go muddy. But really the whole process starts with picking an image that strikes me as interesting.
These smiling ‘photo faces’ are ubiquitous in social media or dating websites, but they’re quite unusual subjects for paintings.
When I look around, I see this stream of images reflecting sexuality or power or violence. We are inside it and we don’t even understand what it all says about us. When I came here to Switzerland, I just wanted to have more friends. So I joined some Internet groups, but I soon realized that the point was not to have friends. The point was a game of power, a game of showing off who you are or how strong you are. The women tend to act like prostitutes, just to impress men and prove to themselves they are still young and beautiful. The men show their muscles to say, “I’m really cool. I’m the winner.” It’s just posing.
So you’re taking these poses and you’re replicating them, but you’re also amplifying the digital mistakes, the digital noise.
I started to exaggerate it because I didn’t understand why these images were so eerie. And then I realized it’s because this noise is also figurative. These people are not really this way. Each person is playing a role.
Some people can’t be away from their role on Facebook and I have to say, “Do you have to answer that message now, when you’re with me? I am a real friend in front of you.”
Yes, exactly, these technological means amplify solitude, and not togetherness, in the end. Not always, of course, but all this simulating a fantastic life – it’s not real. I think I amplify the unhappiness, the figurative noise, like a musician who uses distortion and a dirty sound instead of a clean, pop music sound. I don’t like hyper-realism. It’s too clean. Sometimes people ask me if my paintings are really photographs printed on canvas, but if you see them in person, you see that it is not hyper-realism. There are many flaws and distortions.
Gerhard Richter’s exhibition at the Foundation Beyeler last summer highlighted how he has oscillated between small photorealistic paintings and large abstract works and how the conversation between those two extremes has developed.
Yes, I would like to be the second version of Richter, now in the age of digital photography. He used shaky photos, when the camera moved and recorded a double or blurry image. In this sense, he has been my master. I made a lot of abstract art when I was younger, but now I see it as decoration. Decoration is also an interesting part of art, but I realized the artists I really love -- like Gerhard Richter or Lucien Freud or Nan Goldin -- are not neutral. They are political. They are intellectuals. They say something with their work. I want my work to make a statement.