Thursday, October 12, 2006

Michele Zalopany at Esso

This is a show( with a nice review here ) in NY, that just ended by an artist originally from Detroit. I came across the show through James Wagner's post and while I did not see the show and have never been to Detroit ; I was very moved by this work. The artist is tapping into such a rich river of memory and identity, that gives the images a lot of power. These images are loaded.

From the gallery press release:

Her paintings' photographic realism use a fictitious model, closer to an excuse to raise a question rather than make a statement, although many of the places, people and things are, or were, real. In 1943 it is believed that a confrontation on the Belle Isle Bridge was the spark to the ensuing riots. Zalopany's beautiful rendering of the empty Belle Isle Bridge paradoxically describes the scene of social malaise and the inability to mitigate Detroit's enormous racial chasm.
Zalopany's larger-than-life "Line Up" comprised of three panels at a total of 7'4" x 13 ft is a meditation on profiling in 1943. The six subjects, three males and three females, are posed in a police line up, dressed as though they were going to church, stare ambivalently into the camera, hence, at the viewer, asking the question 'why?' The viewer is in front of a contradiction, a painting that is not just a painting leaves open every interpretation. The painter obviously wasn't sitting in front of six subjects in a police line up. Maybe she painted using models in vintage clothes, in order to balance the unpleasantness of the real image she pushed herself to compose another antithetical one. The presence or absence maybe doesn't means much, what matters is her ability to make each of her paintings a serious questions. Technically, each picture is born pastel stroke by pastel stroke - applied with great skill and experience as well as the necessity that brings the artist to create new forms for her language and to organize the invented forms in relationships, into image-making.

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