5/8/10 1:18 PM
A couple of fishing boats are docked along the side of a waterway, their elaborate rigging tucked up. A quiet Italian street buzzes gently with café chatter, while a young couple walk by, hand in hand. These images, which appear in the paintings of Jose Jiminez—are they real or imagined? Did Jimenez observe them or make them up? Part of what makes it so hard to tell is that these pictures idealize their subjects. The fishing boats glow golden in the early morning light, the laneway sings with fresh flowers and pastel walls, the couple are faceless anybodies. It’s all so perfect and pretty and harmless as to seem closer to an idea of a place that any real place itself. Perhaps that’s why the charming little street, in particular, more closely recalls the fake Venice built in Las Vegas than the one slowly sinking in an Italian lagoon. That said, there are moments of real charm here, in the impressionistic separation of colors reflected in the waters surrounding the boats, and in the ships’ rigging, painted so simply, with single strokes of bright rainbow paint that come nowhere close to being realistic. That’s the trick with images that idealize reality: the more imaginative, the better.