With her exhibition Absolute Locations, Pfister takes a fascinating new look at how we may view our world. Although the canvases may just seem rich confections of colours in an abstract form, they are in fact very much grounded in the material world. Pfister believes that "technology has radically altered traditional notions of viewing our environment." GPS (global positioning satellites) "can pinpoint within feet any location on the globe while at the same time multiple resonance imaging (MRI) allows us to look deep and into minute detail inside the human body in ways never before anticipated." For the artist, this has created "many questions about micro and macro perspective." read more »
It is a common misconception among the visually unsophisticated that since ancient man for whatever purpose depicted animals in caves such as Lascaux 30,000 years ago, the artist has looked at everything in a constant fashion. Not only does this not take into account the effect of different cultures, artistic personalities and abilities in creating a work, but it also ignores radical advances in knowledge and technology. The Egyptians developed a rich tradition of pictorial art without using the optical effects of recession. The development of perspective in the early fifteenth century in Italy profoundly influenced the way pictures were painted until the late nineteenth century, by which time photography had become a new element in viewing the world.
The twentieth century would shake up artistic preconceptions even further. Now the artist could view the world from the aeroplane. On the ground, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism and many other isms presented seemingly endless new challenges.
These are the backdrops against which the modern painter must work and establish a unique artistic viewpoint. Some do it by pursuing a narrow course and hardly deviating from it over a lifetime's work. Pfister has chosen the far tougher route: constantly rethinking how she can view the world around her.
Her career experience and wide training in America and Britain have probably encouraged an unusual open-mindedness. She has worked in various media including collage, photography and sculpture for illustration before committing herself to painting in 1995. Pfister has written that her work "focuses on life’s myriad experiences and memories using different objects as metaphors." Some pictures have interpreted everyday objects such as books, toys, sweets, playing with perspective and manipulating them "as a conjured memory". The Jungian root, she says, "pervades my work."
So to the present exhibition, in which Pfister approaches a world "unknown to us a century ago". Here, apparently abstract paintings do, in fact, have an Absolute Location, which has informed the image. As if viewed from a satellite, each exact spot on the globe is not named, although it can be pinpointed by the viewer who takes the trouble to follow the map location accompanying the work. For many, this will not matter. Paintings as richly diverse as Absolute Locations 1, 8, 15, 16, 18, 21, 22, 25, 27, 28, illustrated in this catalogue, plus all the rest of Pfister’s exhibition, need no more explanatory words to justify their merits as compelling images.
David Buckman, author, Artists in Britain since 1945 « shrink