Samuel Blatts latest series, Peers, is on view at Seattles Linda Hodges Gallery
. Inspired by several thousand inherited photographs taken in Japan and California during the Korean war, Blatts newest collection of paintings showcases peer relationships between American soldiers and civilians during times of leisure and inactivity.
While the scenes throughout Peers look friendly at first glance, the photographs that the paintings are based on were taken less than 10 years after World War II. With this historical lens, viewers are left to wonder about lingering tensions from the recent war in Japan and how those dynamics might have shaped the relationships depicted in the series.
Though inspired by real photographs, Blatt allowed himself to edit the images and effect the meaning throughout the series. Blatts Technique aims to show the viewer where to look and insinuate how to feel about each section of the painting. Unimportant information has been blurred to push the viewer's eye away from these areas. Parts of the painting must die to allow others to shine brighter and have a stronger effect, says Blatt. If the painting is homogenous in its treatment, the painter has asserted no opinion on the subject.
During the making of this series, Blatt was also heavily influenced by the cinematography of Henri Clouzot, Jean Cocteau, and Robert Wise. Two films he studied closely are Wises The Haunting (1963), and Clouzots unfinished film Inferno (1964). Wise and Clouzot both used blurring and cropping to direct the eye to the important areas of the composition and create moments of anticipation, tension, and intrigue. Throughout Peers, Blatt uses those same cinematic methods of tension to enhance the narrative in his paintings.
Samuel Batt graduated from the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago in 20112 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Painting in 2012. During his studies, Blatt apprenticed under Master Painter Kevin Wolff.
Throughout his career, Blatt has been a private drawing tutor and an assistant teacher for multiple drawing and painting classes. His first series at Linda Hodges Gallery, Women Detroit exhibited in April 2017 and was also inspired by a large collection of vintage photographs.
Peers is Blatts second show at Linda Hodges Gallery in Seattle.