Patrick McElnea

My Hollywood neighborhood is haunted by projections. Palm leaves and fig trees throw their silhouettes over rows of sidewalk concrete. I see antennae-like branches reaching towards eyeballs or a subterranean colony of abdomens. These projections, like Rorschach inkblots, get recast as I paint them from photographs. They lead me to envision a shadow-world of organisms below paved land and in groomed canopies of vegetation, ecosystems marked by humans: eggs hatch in Gatorade, an insect predator mistakes microplastics for food, fluorescent gasses postpone the search for a companion.

Building up and wiping down thin layers of color, I see these paintings as allegories of pleasure, foraging, and hallucination. They explore the mental images shadows can evoke and build upon my longstanding interest in “projective” vision: the process of displacing one's urges, discomforts, or desires onto what is seen. In that moment before we – as viewers – transform an “unfamiliar” image into familiarity (before seeing Jesus in a potato chip or a face on the moon's surface), our uncertainty implicates us in its formation. We become coauthors of an image unfastened to our identifiable world but grounded by shared visual encounters.