Sunday, September 30, 2012

Panotpticon Gallery visit September 22nd

     At the Panopticon Gallery in Kenmore Square, Boston, there was a Harold Feinstein retrospective that took up most of the main gallery.  It was a treat to see so many of his images together and as actual 16” X 20” prints as opposed to reproductions scaled down in a book.  The way Feinstein was able to capture people so comfortably candid is amazing to me.  In some of the photographs the subjects were willingly aware of being photographed, while others captured completely unaware people engage in the kinds of common activities we tend to forget, but with which we can’t help but relate.  Feinstein’s framing of his images are what really makes his photos stick in the minds of the viewer.  One photograph shot at the beach shows two portly aging men in bathing suits, turned slightly away from the camera, but still in enough profile to see there round bellies bulge above their bathing suits.  They seem intent on discussing with each other something that demands their interest, while in the background, framed between their bellies, runs a young girl on the beach, presumably someone that one of these gentlemen is charged with watching.  The photo is so unflattering, but so true, and comical in the lay script that runs through the viewer’s head.  Another amazingly framed image shows a Korean war service man reposing with his feet propped up, smoking a cigarette, and looking at the camera.  The camera angle stats at the bottom of his propped up shoes and looks down at the resting service man.  He fills the entire frame, and this angle foreshortens the rest of his body in a way that makes one think of being curled up in a nest.  And another image I really love is of a dark eyed dirty-faced gypsy girl who stares openly at the camera.  This girl’s head fills the right half of the image, while the left side is filled with a blurred and spinning merry-go-round that is behind the girl.
     Also at the gallery was work by Stephen Sheffeild.  Most of his images were 16” X 20” silver gelatin prints, but there were also some larger images constructed with a series of individual prints tiled together to form the larger image and then coated with resin.  Most of these larger images I felt like the images themselves were great, but the execution was still in need of perfecting the process.  His smaller works were all beautifully exposed and printed, and his metaphoric subject matter I found beautifully haunting.  Most of his images he used himself as a model, and was always suit-glad, and face obscured by cigarette smoke, shadow, or some other means.  I used one of his photographs for my artist comparison paper.
     The third artist represented was Alipio Hernandez.  There were just about a half dozen of his pieces, but they were very interesting.  Black and white negatives were silver gelatin printed, cut up, and pieces toned in different color toners.  Then the images were stitched back together with thick black zigzag stitching.  All of the images were portraits of people, and I thought the most successful of these images were the ones that focused on creating a single image of a person with different shapes and colors within the face, like the different parts of an individual’s personality, as opposed to the images that repeated a person’s likeness over and over in multiple colors.  I also preferred when the color shifts between sections were subtler, for the jarring color shifts didn’t seem to meld as well with the subject of portraiture for me.  I felt overall his work was very intriguing, and an excellent idea, but I also felt sometimes he let his idea of process and his excitement with it sometimes get in the way of creating a successful image.  But I am very curious where this path will lead him because I think he’s on his way to somewhere exciting.

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