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In the first year of art school, contemporary artist and academic Erica Tandori was diagnosed with macular degeneration. The doctor told her to “leave art school, give up, it’s no use”. The moment proved pivotal, but not straightforwardly so: despite the doctor’s advice and her limited vision, Tandori refused to abandon art. She built a practice intent on articulating the phenomenology of macular degeneration, of seeing the world through eyes deemed legally blind.
Tandori’s work is a counter to, in her words, the prevailing notion that “the soul of the artist is in the retina”. Her position is startlingly immersive. Captured en plein air, ‘Celestial Light’ pictures bushland. The work shimmers like oil on water, at once dreamy and vivid. It is a vision of the bush delineated from smell, hearing and touch – silken grass bending under foot, a canopy of light beaming overhead, whispering leaves.
The best way to understand Tandori’s practice is by observing the difference between sight and vision. Where the former deals in optical data, the latter lies in imagination, desire and memory; in her work however, Tandori suggests this distinction is not as resounding as suspect. Her rendition of the Victorian bush is an imagining, yet it feels real. For her, art transcends the translation of optical data to become “a safe place where [she can] see the world clearly, where there is beauty, colour, light and drama, a world not created through the diseased retina but through a desire to escape it”.
The recipient of a PhD, Masters and several awards, Tandori works alongside ophthalmologists and academics to redress the divides between those with and without vision impairment. She considers how art can be experienced by the visually impaired, and how the world as seen by the blind can translate to the seeing. In the intoxicating realism of ‘Celestial Light’, she reminds us that no matter the status of your retina, our relationship to the surrounding world is far more personal, emotional and imagined than we realize. Vision more often than not, overwhelms sight.
This work will enliven collections of contemporary art and landscapes.
Erica TANDORI (1965 - )'Celestial light'oil on canvasImage Size: 91 x 91 cm Dimensions: 94 x 94 x 7 cm Signed: signed versoCondition: Excellent
© The Artist or Assignee
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