New York Photo Review
Volume 4 Issue 31 July 30 to September 10, 2013

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

In Extremis

Alchemical
Christopher Stromee

Photo by Minor White . Source: stevenkasher.com
Minor White, "72 N. Union Street, Rochester, 1958".

This group show is mainly about “quasi-mystical” transformation, a theme evoked by the exhibition title. Certainly, this quality is predominant in the handsome artworks on view, almost all of which are photographs. Some two-dozen pieces by sixteen artists, all but one contemporary, range from unpeopled landscapes to cityscapes and abstractions. Most appear to have been Photoshopped to some extent.

Two artists working in black and white at first confound the viewer with their methods. The four photogram-like images by Phil Chanc are compositions formed by angled rectangular forms that have all but disappeared since they were developed as unfixed silver gelatin prints. Within hours, exposure to light virtually obliterated the images, compressing the period of loss due to light exposure from years to a relative instant. Robert Buck’s 2009 piece (Alert), acrylic and oil on canvas, is only faintly visible until seen with a camera flash that activates the special paint. Thus illumined, it appears to be a picture of sheer billowing fabric suggestive of swirling smoke patterns.

Photo by Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson . Source: stevenkasher.com
Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson, " Smokescreen (Family Portrait #9)" 2010.

The four-color archival pigment prints from 2010 by Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson all show the same wide-open Western landscape. Each print is divided in half vertically with layers of sky and clouds above and a soft-focus perspective across scrubby vegetation with low mountains in the distance below. A mysterious green cloudlike fog disperses in various ways within each print.

Roe Ethridge is represented by two paired 2009 chromogenic prints (the premier color print method) of a Tokyo city grid against a distant sky at sunset. Apparently aerial views, they present an atmospheric smoggy scene. Tokyo Two is transformed by a diagonal shaft of light, revealing delicate rainbow colors along its length.

Elena Dorfman’s 2012 digital chromogenic print on metallic paper is comprised of some 200 layered images of the same scene, tall thrusting rocks above a still mirrored inlet. Despite its inhospitable subject, the print with its blue-green metallic sheen casts an uncanny enchantment.

Photo by Ryan McGinley . Source: stevenkasher.com
Ryan McGinley, "Night Sky (Green)" 2009-2010.

Ryan McGinley’s 2009-2010 green-tinted slightly blurred chromogenic print, shows the view upward from a clearing of trees whose branches ring the night sky. A glowing area, like a faraway constellation, overlays a pattern of stars as if to mark a pending celestial event.

A playful piece by Daniel Lefcourt from 2009 might be categorized as multimedia. Sawdust and bits of wood are laid on the face of an overhead projector which throws the image onto fiberboard wall panels. On the wall you see an abstract arrangement of dark irregular forms amidst the silhouetted particles on a background slightly cream-colored from the light source.

Photo by David Benjamin Sherry . Source: stevenkasher.com
David Benjamin Sherry, "Bridalveil Falls,Yosemite, CA" 2013.

For me the most mystical image in the exhibition is the 2013 chromogenic print by David Benjamin Sherry. His nominal subject is the famous Bridalveil Falls at Yosemite National Park. The craggy cliff face is printed in a heightened sepia tone while the watery areas and a protruding section of stone read as bright white. A concave slice of sky above is linked to a near mirror image below by the narrow almost incandescent falls. Emptying into the sun-bright pool, they seem to dematerialize into mist —as if we were witnessing something strange and revelatory.

Like the highlighted Falls, this show is a bright spot in the midsummer gallery scene, well worth a firsthand visit.


Alchemical
Curator: Kevin Moore

Steven Kasher Gallery
521 W 23rd St.
Chelsea         Map

212 966 3978
stevenkasher.com

Wednesday, July 10 to
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Hours: Tue-Sat, 11 to 6
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