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Why is it that so many people love abstract art? In large part, I think making something abstract creates multiple layers of interpretation, offering the viewer a rich emotional experience. At Panopticon Gallery in Boston, Jason Landry has curated a show of pure eye candy. The work of nine contemporary photographers features interpretations of the physical world in a broad spectrum of remarkable abstract imagery. For a transcendent experience, I encourage you to get into summer mode and go see this exhibit in person.
Entering the gallery, you are greeted by a series of color photographs by Keith Johnson, “The Chosen Place”, to one side and a series of B&W prints by Jerry Reed, “Paper Work”, to the other. This sets the tone for the entire show, at once alluring and diverse. Johnson’s composite photographs of water, horizon and sky are constructed from photographs he’s taken over twelve years visiting the “finger lake” Canandaigua near Rochester, NY. The consistency of the same composition from image to image in his series contrasts with the impossible combinations of form, light and color within each print. Johnson’s evocative layering of the invented onto the predictable is unusually pleasing and, taken together, creates a heavenly fantasy.
In his series, “Paper Work”, Jerry Reed’s B&W photographs of close-up paper arrangements become abstract designs through careful directional lighting. His constructions are sensually textured, elegant studies of form and tonality. Down the hall, Reed’s outdoor, color images likewise emphasize form and line, while featuring often saturated palettes. His distinctive compositions are equally potent in both series.
Alexander Harding’s close-up studies of everyday objects feature a fun romp through a variety of textures and offer a stark contrast to Elizabeth Ellenwood’s “urban landscapes” of overhead telephone lines, a creative study of pure line and composition. Suzette Bross presents yet another approach to abstraction, incorporating both a timeline and patterning into her 100 (iPhone) image montages of the walks she takes in her native Chicago. Printed on watercolor paper with keen attention to the patterning of color and form, Bross’ works have a painterly appearance and reveal her strong roots in graphic design. Her combinations of pattern, palette and storyline have a mesmerizing and magnetic quality.
Two women artists originating from opposite sides of the earth both base their imagery on close-up photographs of built structures with notably different effects, one of the delights of the variety in this exhibit. Ioanna Tourkantonis, a 2009 NESOP graduate from Greece, is featured in the emerging artist alcove of this show. Her close-ups of local bridges shot with medium format B&W film are small, well-composed photographs with an extra dimension: by using halochrome toner on her gelatin silver prints, she renders the tone an appropriately rusty brown, while “silvering” the surface of the print, which further imbues it with the look of the steel she is photographing. It is a wonderfully evocative effect for her subject matter.
Californian Andrea Stone delivers a tour de force with her un-manipulated, color close-ups of glass and metal sheathed urban buildings. With a background in landscape architecture and inspiration from Impressionist painters, Stone deftly arranges the patterning of reflective architectural surfaces with their surroundings into gorgeous, lyrical distortions of composition and hue – abstract allusion at its best. The combination of naturally luminescent colors with tack-sharp focus and softly undulating contours is simply breathtaking.
Two artists with some of the most abstract work in this show have seemingly created the most divergent photographs. The colorful, flowing, aluminum-mounted images by Louis Henri Pingitore are as vibrant as they are ethereal while the dark-field B&W images from Paul Wainwright’s “Pendulum Project” are as intricate and precise as pure mathematical formulas. In this exhibit, the artistic visions may vary widely but the photographs themselves are consistently striking.
“Abstract (Photo) Expressionists” and Michael Donnor’s solo exhibit “Paper Truths” will be exhibited at Panopticon Gallery in Boston’s Kenmore Square through September 9, 2014. For more information, go to: http://www.panopticongallery.com/exhibitions/
Feature image: “Shades of Purple, 2012” by Andrea Stone (courtesy of the artist and Panopticon Gallery, Boston)