Gareth Long’s work questions the notions of authorship and originality through processes of translation, transposition and collaboration. He is thus concerned with issues of copying and imitation that have punctuated the history of art and literature and describes the origin of his work as lying in a “conceptual reading” that opens up to new uses of books and texts by shifting reading from the field of contemplation to that of action.
Untitled (Walt) is part of the series of artworks Untitled Stories (2011), lenticular print portraits of nine members of the Glass family created from the covers of four JD Salinger books published by Little Brown & Co in 1991. The editor’s choice of a logo with rainbow diagonal stripes reflects a desire to evoke the modernist aesthetic that prevailed at the time of the writings of the American author, including the ubiquitous abstract and geometric patterns found in post-war painting by artists such as Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella. Despite this synchronicity, Gareth Long is interested in the gap between the cover art and the literary content. Although Salinger’s writings became identifiable by their book jackets, the artist believes the latter are at odds with the author’s narrative style that invokes metaphysical or existential themes which precisely attempt to escape from the modernist literary tradition. By using the lenticular process the picture changes in relation to the point of view of the viewer and reveals, in a single plane, the thirty pictures assembled by the artist. Changing shape as viewers move, these works, that are somewhere between sculpture and painting, leafing through frames and leafing through a book, represent a gallery of portraits in permanent movement.