In Photofictions Lucas Samaras continues his exploration of an enigmatic world suspended between fantasy and reality. Landscapes, interiors, flower pieces and self-portraits are created with digital images taken by the artist and recomposed through computer manipulation. They follow on from earlier photo-based work such as the AutoPolaroids (1969–1971), the Photo-Transformations (1973–1976), Sittings (1979–1980) and the Panoramas of the mid-1980s. These are the first works in which Samaras uses photographs taken outdoors.
Samaras’s use of the camera led the American critic Donald Kuspit to comment: Not since Surrealism have we seen photography used so brilliantly to articulate the unconscious a machine of seeing used to make the invisible inner organism visible. Samaras continues where Surrealism left off, and in his investigations of subjects such as sexuality, terror, mortality, metamorphosis, he has played the part of both the observer and the observed, roles that can be difficult to distinguish. Many of the images in Photofictions incorporate a self-portrait, often incongruously placed or miraculously transformed, but invariably poised as though to further challenge and disturb our equilibrium.
The lush textures and seductive colours that have always been integral to Samaras’s art, whether in his boxes, sewn fabrics or pastels, are another means of throwing us off balance. They create a hyperactive emotional pitch which can be lyrical as well as aggressive, but which is invariably disorientating. In these latest works Samaras uses every means at his disposal to take photography to a new level of imaginative intensity.