Reality is a difficult thing to grasp, because the details of any particular moment or event only exist in the records and memory that persists in archives or in the minds of those present. There is a disconnect between reality and any recollection of that reality, as the nature of recollection entails that details are altered and affected by how those details are shared; memories change depending on emotional states, wording of a story drastically changes interpretation of facts. Art is a prime example of this phenomena, as it is said that every painting is somewhat of a self-portrait of the painter, as on some level, no matter how minutely or unconsciously it was done, the painter has influenced their depiction with their own thoughts and feelings. A photograph is a rare example of a medium which perfectly captures the details of an event; an unedited and unaltered photograph is a flawless memory of something’s truth. It is a captured and contained still image of reality at a given moment. There is a consistency in the photograph, in that it captures a perfect replica of its subject. Even though people can still view photographs and see different things from it (focusing on different aspects of it or applying themselves to it somehow), there is a more consistent baseline in several people’s interpretations of a (for example) photograph of a flower than there would be in several people’s memory of said flower. Painting a photograph is an artist’s recreation of how they perceive that photograph, though it is altered by the painter, it is more consistent with the reality of the subject depicted than a painting of the subject itself would be. This consistency is as important to the painter as to the viewer, as a stronger sense of consistency in a work forms a stronger connection between which ideas are shared.
The paintings of Meinhof capture one person’s interpretation of those pictures, particularly in how they accentuate certain features of the photographs, such as the smoothness and softness in Youth Portrait, or the varying degrees of gritty reality in the various versions of Dead. The record of one person’s interpretation of that pain is a powerful tool, as it is more emotional than the picture might be on its own.