“In Absentia” explores and questions our ideas about photography through three discrete, standalone series. Each series leverages the photographic medium as a starting point, then spans over modernist tenets, blurring discursive boundaries with painting and conceptual practices in the process.
Memoria Abstractum removes clear depiction from the image, creating works upon which the viewer may (more) freely project their memories of time, of place, of people, of things. Deep and effusive colors that merge with one another also serve to promote a phenomenological reaction to the images more normally associated with abstract expressionist painting. 
Photography’s presumptive depictive power is often conflated with the perfect memory of an event, however even the most clearly taken photograph loses its power to invoke a perfect memory over time. What was the occasion? Why were they there? Who was there with them? Can two people look at the same photograph, argue each of these points and both be correct? 
Unseen Landscapes explores the vistas and hidden worlds behind the surfaces of everyday structures and found objects. By focusing beyond and behind the surface, the camera unlocks vistas and forms not visible to the naked eye; revealing and presenting these images into the physical world via large-format prints entices participation and interaction with these seemingly unseen planes of existence.
Benches takes an alternate path to abstraction, restoring  photography’s power to perfectly fix the view in front of the lens; however, clear depiction does not necessarily equate to clear meaning.   Individual images of  benches found inside and outside of fine art museums across the United States and England do not provide clear and absolute meaning within their individual frames. Even when viewed as a serial work, any meaning attributed to the individual portraits, or the series as a whole, is speculative, shifting and collapsing in on itself when the images are rearranged, changing the context of the work in the process despite the images themselves remaining resolutely fixed.​​​​​​​
About The Artist
A native Angeleno, Gareth Mackay has explored cities and landscapes across the United States and Europe for over three decades, working in both editorial and artistic capacities.  In an effort to better understand his chosen medium, and what drove him to focus on specific types of work, Gareth joined Cal State LA’s studio MFA program in Fall of 2021. As one of the only photographers in an interdisciplinary program steeped in painting and sculpture, Gareth learned to view photography as much from outside of the medium as from within it. This is reflected in his MFA Graduate Exhibition, "In Absentia", which explores and questions photography’s modernist boundaries.
At home in both urban and rural alleyways and canyons, Gareth’s images are derived from the world around him at any given point in time. Little of the work is premeditated or predetermined at the time of capture. Gareth revels in the creative freedom afforded by a liberal interpretation of the photographic medium, preferring to use and misuse the camera simply as a means to paint light onto the photographic plane. Many of his images are found days, weeks or months after the initial shutter click, producing  works that are highly depictive, abstract and ephemeral, and/or conceptual in nature.
While the majority of Gareth’s work is born in the digital realm, it is important that the resulting images return to the analog world in the form of physical and, quite often, large-scale, pigment-based prints. Further, he views the gallery frame as an extension of the photograph rather than its ending point or fixed border, striving to incorporate its construction into the final work whenever possible.

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