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Richard Neal


After the development of photography in the Nineteenth Century, the field of painting underwent a series of convulsive and dramatic changes throughout the following century, and up through the present day. The dynamic that exists between these two practices fuels a continual conversation about truth and deception.   


Through painting and collage techniques, this series re-presents frames of the homemade 8mm Zapruder film, which depicted the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. In several of these mixed media works, an individual frame of the film was manipulated, printed on canvas, ripped apart, reassembled and then painted.


Other works here were created with materials salvaged from the Kennedys' summer cottage in Hyannis Port after its renovation in 2013.


“Portal” began as a kitchen cupboard, but turned into something else: a passageway that could never have opened until the wall behind it was gone. Taken out of context, the cupboard becomes a window into the past—into the ordinary lives of extraordinary people—and somehow orients us more fully in the present.

At first, you might simply see a homely cupboard: the hinges and handles of its functional existence, its mottled surfaces, the hurried brush strokes of a house painter from long ago. Yet this household object endures, a witness to the daily lives of the Kennedy family, the household staff, and the Secret Service agents assigned to protect them. You can easily imagine John’s or Jackie’s hand reaching for a plate or jar of relish. 

Stained and torn, the red, white, and blue shelf paper still expresses a poignant sense of patriotism. A softball on the shelf recalls the Kennedy vigor and activism. A lampshade blackened by late-night reading reminds us of a family who championed education and intellectualism. Sometimes, mundane details have the power to elicit the profound. 

Tilting precariously forward, "Portal" offers a shift in perspective, reminding us of the hopeful optimism of another era while evoking the sadness of lost potential. Reflecting on this from the present day, it is hard not to wish for what might have been.

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