Painting "Geometries of a Discarded Chemical Tank" by Hunter Madsen

"Geometries of a Discarded Chemical Tank"

TITLE - "Geometries of a Discarded Chemical Tank"
WHERE - Industrial salvage yard, San Diego, California (2016)

The deliberate orientation of this image creates a visual conundrum that encourages the viewer to engage and render an interpretation of what she is seeing.  The shot is oriented such that the square opening cut out of the chemical tank aligns exactly in center position with the square frame of the image perimeter. This striking alignment prompts the viewer to perceive the black square as being somehow external to the subject and floating on top of it, perhaps imposed artificially by the photographer in the way that the painter Rene Magritte once floated an apple in front of a businessman's face, or in the way that contemporary French photographer Georges Rousse imposes startling visual non sequiturs.  Seeking to resolve this ambiguity, alert viewers spot the cut-out piece down among the weeds. 

The essential mysteriousness of this formally beautiful image consists in its unblinking symmetry, and perhaps in the way its circle-and-square design echoes that of a central icon in world art - Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man - while it also evokes the classic mill stone of Chinese traditional art and antiquities. Building resonant, implicit allusions into a photograph is another mode of alienation.