“Wait.” People will double-take when they see Ann Goldberg’s paintings. “Is that a photo?” A particularly perfect photo? Hers is a hyper-beautiful world where tiny visual details are captured – reflections, shadows, wind – and colours are at their most vibrant.
“My paintings might be considered Hyperreal paintings,” Goldberg explains, “Hyperrealism is an outgrowth of extremely high resolution images produced by digital cameras, whereas photorealism emulated analog photography. With digital photography, we are stopping time, immortalizing a moment.”
“Being present in an intense way is made possible by these high resolution digital images. Just think of a drop of water, in full resolution, hovering motionless in the air.”
You’ll see a lot of water in Goldberg’s June 2018 show at Winsor Gallery. Included will be Underwater – the woman swimming underwater in our header – and Pool #29. “This painting was inspired by a visit to Palm Springs, California, at a resort with 36 pools. The water was so beautiful and yet there was a drought in California at the time. It was so ironic being surrounded by all this beautiful water and yet there was a water shortage.”
“Images of water and glass are often my favourite and exemplify what I am trying to achieve. I see the beauty in the rainbows in the glass and will often try to make these rainbows more extreme in my paintings. Sometimes this is not necessary as they might already be amazing. When less work is required to enhance this beauty, I am blown away by its native beauty. When an image does require exaggeration, I see beauty waiting to be revealed and I get excited to reveal this beauty.”
How does Goldberg move from spotting a compelling image to recreating it in paint?
“When I see something that interests me – often it’s Pop-Arty – I photograph it with a digital camera. I usually take about two hundred photos of each subject I am working on. After reviewing all the images, I usually get at least one image that resonates with me.”
As a next step, Goldberg will display the image on her computer, using software to play with its elements. She will continue to analyze details of the scene as she paints it onto canvas. “I will attempt to bring out or highlight the parts that I found beautiful, that caught my eye originally. I will saturate colors, emphasize contrasts, highlight light, and pop out what I think is important in the image.”
“Sometimes, I will mix parts of images together. While painting the image on the canvas and intensifying what I see as beautiful in it, I will often refer to the digital image on the screen of a computer, tablet or cell phone.”
The precision in Goldberg’s work is no doubt enhanced by her background in mathematics and her training as an architect. “In the mathematical world – and in some ways in the architectural world – there are equal and opposite forces. The real world and the digital world might be similarly opposite but not comparatively or relatively equal. I see these dichotomies in the world, and I express them in my painting.”
Indeed, along with the Hyperrealism, many note an Abstract Expressionist influence in Goldberg’s work. “’If you get up close, my paintings are abstract and painterly, but as you step away from the canvas, they transform into something photographic. I find this duality fascinating. It also occurs in the lightness vs. darkness in my work, and in the detailed focus vs. the blurred.”
Goldberg has long taken an interest in the art of her surroundings. ‘My first memories were of playing with my Mother’s boxes of buttons – my Mother is a sewer, and my Grandmother a weaver – and arranging the buttons with respect to colour. I also remember going with my Mother to the Edmonton Art Gallery and seeing the new Photorealists.”
A young Goldberg immersed herself in art when the family was out. “My older siblings and parents frequently spent evenings away from home when I was a kid. I often found myself alone, with my German Shepherd, listening to music and drawing a world of monsters. I had an entire imaginary world of monsters. I became a bit of a hermit as a result and learned to use that time creating and entertaining myself, which has kind of continued into adulthood.”
Though she worked in architecture, Goldberg soon moved into a career in painting. “I loved working as an architect, although I found the work to be sometimes rote and regulated and a bit different than I had originally expected given the university education. Art and painting allowed me to completely express myself creatively without constraints. Also, I could stay home with my infant daughters.”
What does Goldberg like most about being a professional artist?
“The feeling I get from it. I have flow and that imparts a deep happiness. I feel very lucky.” Goldberg also enjoys teaching Visual Arts and Architecture at Arts Umbrella. “It’s wonderful to work as an instructor. I love to impart this feeling of flow to the children. It’s a gift and it helps with one’s challenging emotions.”
And what is most challenging in being a professional artist?
“Dealing with one’s own ego. I find there are very high highs and low lows and have found it’s best not to get caught up in those moments.” Better, Goldberg says, to live in the moment and avoid comparisons with others.
What advice would Goldberg give to someone yearning to make a living as a full-time artist?
“I think it’s very difficult to completely live off the earnings of an artist these days. In all honesty, I think it’s wise to have a supporting back-up occupation and this will help the alleviate the pressure to earn that could compete with inspiration and creativity.”
“One might earn a living with one’s creative endeavors or one might not, but that is not really the point. The point is to appreciate the opportunity to create and understand that it’s unpredictable.”
Written by Elizabeth Newton
Header: Underwater. 2017. 72×72