Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chelsea Crawl - Part II

After getting a quick bite to eat, I popped over to Jeff Bailey Gallery. The gallery itself was a really small room tucked away on the second floor of a nondescript building in Chelsea… But, the trek was well worth it. ‘Awakened in the Peaceable Kingdom’, an exhibition of new drawings and sculpture by Jon Rappleye is a sight to behold.


Jeff Bailey, 'In the quiver of the kingdom', 2007, Acrylic on paper, 40" X 51"

“The exhibition’s title is inspired by Edward Hicks' (1780 – 1849) series of paintings, Peaceable Kingdom, where the worlds of nature and humankind coexist symbolically in a peaceful idyll. Hicks’ vision was reverent and hopeful, but tempered with concern for the darker and destructive impulses of both animal and man. Rappleye’s drawings feature abundant and extraordinary groupings of animals, birds and plant life. There are no humans. Birds and animals are combined into new, unfamiliar creatures.”

These renderings on paper have been masterfully executed and most of them left me staring into the detail for a long time trying to decipher the inner meaning behind a lot of the representational forms. Of course, having the artist there to walk you through a lot of the paintings would have helped immensely, but it does seem that Rappleye is obsessed with adding a blind owl and a large hairy rabbit in almost all his paintings. I guess the owl represents some sort of continuity in this post industrial landscape. I also did not understand why he did not include any humans in the supposed idyll of a peaceable kingdom if the reference to Ed Hicks is so strong. Strains of a post industrial Thoreau was also heard in my mind eye. All of these unanswered questions still did not stand in the way of his technique – a very original and striking artist whom I highly recommend. I have a funny feeling Chris Reiger would be interested in this sort of thing… I could be wrong here.

“This is Jon Rappleye’s second exhibition at the gallery. His solo exhibition, Out of the Silent Planet, is on view at the Jersey City Museum, New Jersey, through August 12. Upcoming solo exhibitions include, Strange World, at the Salina Art Center, Salina, Kansas (fall 2007) and the Clough-Hanson Gallery, Memphis, Tennessee (early 2008).”


Jeff Bailey, 'Nightwood Bloom', 2007, Acrylic on paper, 42" X 87"

Finally I trekked up all the way to the western end of the island in Chelsea to get to Point of View gallery. I went there purely because I have an enduring interest in human faces and the photographer Matt Hoyle seems to have masterfully captured a whole host of them in various poses of striking emotive power. The name of the show is Icebergs and the name refers to a certain winter swim club where individual members gather at a designated time in the winter to what else – swim…
Matt has managed to masterfully photograph the members of this club in a early morning light with a natural frozen gleam that seem to permeate his HDR enhanced shots. Yes, that is right, I have a fair idea that he uses the techniques behind HDR photography.
Matt Hoyle, 'John'
“Every artist needs to find his or her voice and if I had to describe mine, it would be of quirky empathy that I feel for my fellow human. From the humorous to the heartfelt, I try to look deeper within the subjects I photograph to draw something out that is unique. In doing this, I try to let you look a bit deeper too. What has always interested me as an advertising creative has been stories. Beyond the pure aesthetics of a really nice photo I find what makes me look longer is the hint of a story in the person. And the diversity of subcultures within any society interest me. The fine detail of character in each one that makes them stand out from the rest. I hate wallpaper people, the pretty plastic set in every fashion magazine. For me the interest lies in the raw colourful humanity of us all. People say that they can see through my shots a unique closeness I have with each subject. It really brings me joy to hear this, as that is exactly how I feel when I'm shooting. Photography has been a sort of ticket, I believe, that lets me into the lives of so many I otherwise wouldn't have even known about.”

On looking at these photos in the gallery, I believed that his reliance on HDR photography alone may not take him too far (look at some of the superlative images of HDR enhanced photography on Flickr and you will see what I mean). Of course, I was proved wrong when I went got back and decided to visit his website. It seems to be a treasure trove of narrative pieces waiting to be discovered. He does not disappoint.

Matt Hoyle, 'Vladimir'
I remember feeling a strong urge to paint these faces on walking out of the gallery. The emotions and character depicted on these faces were very strong and I was very moved by the people depicted. I might try and paint them in the coming months.

8 comments:

jafabrit said...

I feel the same was as you lol! the faces are just fantastic. By the way read your article and it was wonderful. Your family must feel really proud of you.

Steve Durbin said...

I can't tell about HDR, but the feel of being processed that you're picking up on in Hoyle's portraits is probably his modest draganizing, very popular recently, often way overdone.

Sunil said...

Corrine,
Thanks. Yes the family and a lot of our neighbours were happy to run into this...
Sunil

Sunil said...

Steve,
Need to find out more about draganizing....
Interesting, hiw software can supplement effort...
Have you thought of that...

Hungry Hyaena said...

Yup, I am interested in Jon's work. He's a talented guy. I was actually planning on a post on the show myself, though it will appear sometime in August, long after the show came down.

Carol Hadfield said...

Great photos - I know what you mean about wanting to paint them, but is this allowed?

Sunil said...

Chris,
Read your perspective on Jon and enjoyed your outlook...

Sunil said...

Carol,
Isnt this analogous to using a photograph to create a painting?
I use a photograph to paint and in the process overlay my perception of what a face means (which may be completely different from what the photographer had in mind). Don’t we all stand on the shoulders of giants?
Please read "The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism," by the novelist Jonathan Lethem, and "On the Rights of Molotov Man," by artist Joy Garnett and the photographer Susan Meiselas for a deeper appreciation on this issue. I tend to follow Joy Garnett's approach in this case.