What the hell?

Most often, the difference between photography and painting is in terms of realism and clarity, though artists gleefully shatter such obvious expectations. From Patrick Faulhaber's photo-realistic paintings of East Dallas neighborhoods to Marcos Rosales' ultra-morphed photos of infant heads, skilled and bratty locals have certainly blurred the lines between the two mediums--Which is a photograph? Which is a painting? And most of all, it's all art...right?

Ted Kincaid, another local wonder, pushes the photographic process to its most unphotographic edges and then slyly pushes it over the cliff. The end results are photos that look more like modernist abstract paintings--blurred and graceful and occasionally unsettling--and dare you to apply any label. Hazy, darkened objects--enlarged and opaque, their edges blurred in the transformation--float across neutral backgrounds, so passive they could be black and ivory wallpaper. Yet your inability to pinpoint these weird shapes forces you to look closer. Stolen images from the X-Files? Bizarre recordings of insidious goings-on? Tabloid television documentaries come to mind, the ones boasting "real footage" of UFOs and ghosts. Kincaid's imagery winks at you playfully, then dares you to turn out the lights. For the less squeamish, they're delicate, buzzing eye candy.

Kincaid's newest series of photographs, at Barry Whistler Gallery, greet an additional medium called photogravure, a chemical process by which the photos are reproduced on intaglio printing plates--these are pushed through a press with colored backing paper (that's all you need to know). The result is a satisfying eyeful of clean, punchy harmony--Kincaid's trademark orbs and stripes playing off of one another and their slickly hued landscapes. A blackish-blue ellipse threatens to crash through the bottom of its slate-blue sky; a handful of murky spheres levitate on a chartreuse background. Thick, dissolving vertical stripes cut neatly through a backwash of electric orange. Separately, these works are individual charmers; together, they create a roomful of assertive, yet friendly, wall punctuation.

The adjacent entryway to the gallery holds a few examples from Kincaid's last series, black and white works that, printed on glossy paper, betray their camera origins. The smaller, soft-focus amorphous shapes often get an injection of sepia tone as they hover and hum, adding mystery and age to their murky anonymity.

Still wanna know what the hell these are? Kincaid titles them with droll pointedness: "Brown Grid," "Brown Elongated Orbs," "Brown Configuration." Ah. So that's what they are.

--Christina Rees

Ted Kincaid is at Barry Whistler Gallery, 2909-B Canton, through October 17. Call (214) 939-0242.


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