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The Flying Deutschman 

click to enlarge Untitled, 2000
  • Untitled, 2000

A restaurant, a plantation, a single-family home, a neighborhood—familiar and, in themselves, unremarkable subjects. But these tranquil vistas are viewed by David Deutsch from such curious perspectives, or rendered through such uncommon conditions, that they are transformed from everyday sights into mysterious and eerie tableaus. Sometimes captured from helicopter and lit by police searchlights, the scenes provoke responses from the inner voyeur and paranoiac alike. Who else is watching? What else can they see? The film noir overtones of Deutsch’s images lead the eye to seek a shady figure passing through the frame. Failing to locate this focus, the eye turns inward with sudden understanding that the focal point may not necessarily be what is pictured but how that picture makes one feel. The anxiety produced by the stark spotlighting and sharp contrast meets an unnerving, ghost-town peace in Deutsch’s aerial photography.

Even Deutsch’s paintings, many of them colorful, broadly brush-stroked portraits of suburban homes, suggest a kind of disinterested resignation that is alternately comforting and disarming. In an interview in 1983, the artist explained, “All my decisions are made from a distance, at least 30 paces back.” Back then, 30 paces was sufficient; 25 years later, Deutsch requires a helicopter to realize his ideas. The precious rarity of the artist’s perspective makes his work distinct and difficult to describe. We are only capable of glimpsing Deutsch’s vision through the aid of the instruments he employed to capture it: In short, we must fly. To take on the artist’s perspective is like telescoping in from space, homing bird’s-eye scenes that offer themselves as both limiting and liberating alternatives to the familiar.

David Deutsch’s paintings and photographs will be on display through November 2 at the recently relocated and expanded Nicole Fiacco Gallery, 336 Warren Street, Hudson; (518) 828-5090; www.nicolefiaccogallery.com.

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