University of California, Riverside professor John Divola featured a series of photographs, titled Abandoned Paintings. All taken in 2008, each of these photos was created on inkjet print. Divola found each of these paintings discarded in UC Riverside dumpsters by his own art students. Unlike his students, however, he decided that these paintings deserved a second chance to be shown to the world. What is most intriguing about this project is that the creators of these works remain anonymous to even Divola himself.

Using his native Southern California as a backdrop, Professor Divola decided to take each of these works to abandoned buildings, where he would display and then photograph them. Some paintings were photographed in multiple settings. With two abandoned elements- the artwork and the building- coming together, each piece somehow found a harmonious balance and appeared complete and intentional, erasing the fact that both artwork and building are ‘unwanted’ in reality.

Abandoned Painting E is black and white, and features a couple embracing. The woman’s hair looks windswept and her hand is on the man’s cheek, while both of their eyes are closed. Her long black hair creates jagged lines which also serve as the outline of the man’s head. This painting is hung on a turquoise wall, in a room which also has a white sidewall and orange wall in the background. Through my own time visiting southern California, I had noticed that these three colors: turquoise, orange, and white, are often used in SoCal architecture. I do not know whether it’s intentional, but it seems to be a regional element since many Los Angeles buildings combine these colors. The room in this photo in particular immediately conjured an image of a similarly abandoned art space I had stumbled upon in Eagle Rock, and I wondered whether or not it is the same space. To me, the bright tone of the overall image, balanced by the shadows around the edges and light coming in from the background, felt “homey” and personal. I felt nostalgic while looking at Abandoned Painting E, longing for the relaxed lifestyle of the West Coast.

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