Last month, Sue and I visited my friend Robin who lives in the mountains outside of Napa, California. We stayed down the road at the Christian Brothers Retreat Center; fortunately, it’s next to the Hess Winery, which has an art collection that includes the work of Franz Gertsch:
Gertsch, though a leading Photo-Realist painter, is emphatic in drawing a distinction between the simple imitation of a camera’s view and achieving, by means of brush and paint, a creative depth that is sometimes absent in the photographic portrait. Currently, he uses projected transparencies only as a guide for his extremely large works, images whose intense intimacy of detail belies their majestic scale. The artist has stated: “The more I focus on the photographic original, the more I move away from it.”
Creating depth that is sometimes absent in the photograph. Intense intimacy of detail. It’s what distinguishes Gertsch’s work. It’s what his paintings do what a photograph cannot.
You stand in front of the painting and gaze into the portrait, sensing an intimacy that seems only possible when looking into someone’s eyes.