• Ali Silverstein - 02 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Michelle Wang
    02 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Michelle Wang
  • Ali Silverstein - 03 / Watercolor on Paper
    03 / Watercolor on Paper
  • Ali Silverstein - 07 / Watercolor on Paper
    07 / Watercolor on Paper
  • Ali Silverstein - 04 / Watercolor on Paper
    04 / Watercolor on Paper
  • Ali Silverstein - 05 / Watercolor on Paper
    05 / Watercolor on Paper
  • Ali Silverstein - 17 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Danielle Moudabber
    17 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Danielle Moudabber
  • Ali Silverstein - 09 / Watercolor on Paper
    09 / Watercolor on Paper
  • Ali Silverstein - 10 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Ellen Westarp
    10 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Ellen Westarp
  • Ali Silverstein - 13 / Watercolor on Paper
    13 / Watercolor on Paper
  • Ali Silverstein - 11 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Danielle Moudabber
    11 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Danielle Moudabber
  • Ali Silverstein - 12 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Robert Lantos
    12 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Robert Lantos
  • Ali Silverstein - 19 / Watercolor on Paper
    19 / Watercolor on Paper
  • Ali Silverstein - 22 / Watercolor on Paper
    22 / Watercolor on Paper
  • Ali Silverstein - 31 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Phoebe Unwin
    31 / Watercolor on Paper / Collection of Phoebe Unwin

X - Rated (Amateur)

Where are the images from?

The source images are all amateur pornography thumbnails from the internet. The paintings are exactly the same 2.5 x 2 inches as the thumbnail image on the computer screen. Even when rendered most faithfully, the paintings are much harder to read “literally” than their source material. Where the original image was extremely graphic, now painterly marks, color, and composition vie for equal attention, and this in itself seems to obscure the graphic subject matter. The eye flips back and forth between marks of paint and the “readable” or recognizable content of the image, between a literal and an abstract experience.

How did you choose which images to paint?

Primarily my choices are about light, color and composition. The amateur pornography is preferable for multiple reasons: 1) the lighting is usually natural, so there are more interesting shadows, shapes, and dark spaces. Because it doesn’t conform to such a prescribed form as “professional” pornography, there is more opportunity for surprising composition and light. 2) I am interested in the self-staged or un-staged nature of it—the fact that the people in the image chose to present what they present. That fact brought the subject matter to life for me. 3) I like the cinematic nature of the images. They feel like moments in a real drama, rather than staged formulas. As a documentary filmmaker, that aspect of real-life observed drama is very interesting to me.