Dreaming Impressionism, 1998

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Barbara Astman
Dreaming Impressionism, 1999


Barbara Astman is a photo-based artist and educator.  She teaches experimental concepts and techniques in photography at Ontario College of Art and Design.  In Dreaming Impressionism she has created striking, innovative large-scale canvases. 


Appropriating familiar images from old masterworks, Barbara Astman reinterprets conventional concept of female portraiture.  This series re-examines Impressionism –images that had profoundly influenced the artist in her formative years – by recontexualizing the subject and the thematic focus of traditional paintings.  Barbara Astman’s Dreaming Impressionism centers on hands, bodies and faces of the subjects, shifting the viewer’s gaze and eliciting a different response in its viewing.


These works, rich and saturated with colour, defy classification: Are they paintings?  But the texture of the surface is “double faced”, according to Barbara Astman.  The works incorporate photographs, polaroids, ink and computer graphics – a process that results in a seamless layering of images.  


BARBARA ASTMAN creates photographic series that target the personal world through recollection or revelation. Her early work responds to contemporary issues by incorporating humor and stereotype. Her oversize photographs from the early 1980s are striking in their bold, unusual use of color and scale.


Throughout her career, Astman pioneered the artistic use of both analogue and digital reproduction techniques. She is among the first to discover and explore the technological practices and concepts that are key signifiers in contemporary art.


Born in Rochester NY, Astman studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the late 1960s when multimedia practices were the hotbed for artistic innovation. Astman came to Canada in 1970 during the wave of draft dodgers from the Vietnam War. Since the mid 1970s she has been a professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto.