Installation view of Luminous: Paintings by Tom Bacher
Artists are supposed to love light, but Tom Bacher actually works with crystals of phosphoresence that he mixes with acrylic gel medium and/or acrylic paints. The amalgam that results has a half life. The paints on the canvas absorb light during the day; as light fails, the colors change, and when darkness invades the studio or gallery, the pictures start glowing, popping off the wall.
“I do paintings that actually incorporate an element of change,” Bacher says. In an article (“Night Visions”) in the June 2008 Artist’s Magazine, he described his complicated process and recalled that his fascination with phosphorescence stems from the glow-in-the-dark toys, religious statues, and rosaries popular in the 1950s.
The show, which represents an overview of the artist’s work, portrays the city as fragments of radiance—joyful and gorgeous schemes of chaos. The pictures that stayed with me longest, however, seem like meditations on, rather than snapshots of, the city. The vantage in these pictures is often from the bank of a river (the Ohio or Hudson); the city appears over the edge, across the water, with the flickering, ghostly validity of a dream.