featured gallery for February 2014

I Am My Own Landscape

Art History teaches us that portraiture is the recording of an individual’s appearance and personality. A landscape, furthermore, depicts scenery: grandiose verdant areas, vast or intimate natural refuge on to which individuals affix mythological and divine symbolisms. Nowadays, we can also encounter urban landscapes, images representing the interaction of individuals and their built environments. Yet, a landscape is not a portrait. The individual, Art History may say, is in the scene or the scene surrounds the human.

That statement could be true unless you confront the artworks of AZT, Christopher Conry and Robert Blanchon, for example, where human presence is not searching for a place to sing to, a site to conquer or a view to contemplate: they are it.

Peter Madero III and Vincent Cianni’s images speak of a type of belonging: the feeling that no other place could potentiate their desires. Leslie Kaliades and Benjamin Fredrickson capitalize on the obscenity of the mundane, the inevitable spaces that they are obliged to inhabit through thick or thin, through health and illness, pain and hope. This is why I smile whenever I stumble upon Felix Gonzalez Torres’ Portrait of Ross in LA (1991). Does Ross really disintegrate every time a visitor takes a piece of candy? Or does he become ever more compelling whenever that same visitor sees, once having experienced the artwork, a heap of sweet treats on the table, the festive fall of a piñata’s content, the lazy shadow of a broken column near a construction site, a crumbling stone on the pavement?

These artists have, to some extent, transcended their bodies. By which I mean, through their art they can also be understood as a drain, the adult video store that titillated them, the ominous hospital beds where they once rested, and couches and tables, and other spaces where they find solace from the world outside.

They have become a place, a landscape, a site: and this is not just a mere extension of their bodies, but rather the (un)pleasant feeling of being that neither the meticulous rendering of a face nor the careful expression of light could support.

See them become dark parking lots, frenzied sex cities, cozy domestic interiors, romantic green meadows. They are not merely in it; they are it, and it is in them. If they ever lacked a place to be, these images show there may be no better home than that which they have built for themselves.