New York Photo Review
Volume 3 Issue 18 May 16 to 22, 2012

Times Past
Ken Rosenthal and Vojtech V. Slama
Photographs 2001-2009 & Wolf’s Honey
Ed Barnas
Missing #ZN-52-10 by Ken Rosenthal. Source: klompching.com
Ken Rosenthal, "Missing #ZN-52-10" 2006

The Klompching Gallery hosts the work of two photographers using traditional, non-digital media. While each takes a personal approach to his subject, both evoke a feeling of mystery and time past.

Ken Rosenthal is an American based in Tucson but you would never know that from the work on display. The eleven toned silver gelatin prints at Klomkpching are all moody monochromes, softly focused, as if in a dream. They comprise selections from five series created over the past decade. One series - Seen and Not Seen - has its genesis in memories of scenes he “knows” from his own family albums, but which occurred before he was born. As treated by Rosenthal, these images are bits of personal history transformed into artifacts of collective memory.

The other series continue to explore the intersection of the individual with the universal. These images of family, friends and strangers –– some casual, some posed –– are all softly focused, as are the few landscapes. In only two images does the subject actually look at the viewer. In most the viewer is a voyeur, looking over the shoulder of the subject at the scene beyond, further enhancing the dreamlike state, particularly in the image from the Ghosts series of five identical men seated around a table (and the only non-square image on display).

Vojtech V. Sláma, on the other hand, is Czech and the fourteen silver bromide prints selected for display strongly reflect a Central European sensibility. Although taken between 1997 and 2004, these images have a definite feel of 1930s Czech photography, with their sharply focused mix of formalism and surrealism. An air of mystery pervades a number of them: a mother shines a flashlight onto her eye, a face peers out of a broken TV screen, someone reads The Grapes of Wrath in the bathtub, a thin stream of cigarette smoke floats upward off a cocktail table, hands interpret within a spiral. As with Dylan’s Mr. Jones, “something is happening here but you don’t know what it is....” While I half expected to hear a Czech soundtrack but despaired of English subtitles, it does not matter. The images are certainly viewable over the long term.

The Grapes of Wrath by Vojtech V. Sláma. Source: klompching.com
Vojtech V. Sláma, "The Grapes of Wrath" 1998

What appears on a gallery’s walls is a combination of what the photographer brings to the gallery and what the curator selects to display. In Rosenthal’s case, the images on view are a good, representative sampling of the various series displayed on his website from Archive 2001-2009 (where one can also see work which is sharply focused rather that painterly and blurred.)

In the case of Sláma’s work, however, I suspect the images selected were specifically chosen to echo Czech photography of the inter-war period. Looking at the over one hundred Wolf’s Honey images on his website, I find a greater variety of style. A number are somewhat surreal, but many have a more casual and personal quality, reflective of the snapshot aesthetic.

On display at the Klompching is a good strong selection, but only one facet of each photographer’s work.

Ken Rosenthal and Vojtech V. Slama
Photographs 2001-2009 & Wolf’s Honey


Klompching Gallery
111 Front St. 2nd Fl
Dumbo Brooklyn         Map

212 796 2070
klompching.com

Friday, March 9 to
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Hours: Weds to Sat, 11 to 6
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