Using homegrown bacteria, photographer Seung-Hwan Oh warps and manipulates his photographs, surrendering his art to a higher ecological order. Oh, who also goes by the name Tonio Oh, explains that his intention is to “explore the impermanence of matter as well as the material limitations of photography.” It brings the artist’s studio into the laboratory, marvelously blending the organic and the artificial.
Oh’s website describes the process:
“As the microbes consume light-sensitive chemical over the course of months or years, the silver halides destabilize, obfuscating the legibility of foreground, background, and scale.”
It’s an interesting approach to photography that takes a normally still medium and adds a dimension of something active, live, and dynamic. When you view Oh’s photographs, the question is no longer the significance of what is depicted; instead, what catches your eye is the tension between what is shown and what is already lost. Though art is naturally created to be consumed, in this case, the art itself is the act of consumption, the parts of the photographs that have been literally eaten away by a relentless force of nature. The result, in Oh’s word, can be witnessed as something that is “entangled creation and destruction that inevitably is ephemeral”.
Michael Ward’s hyperrealistic paintings remind me of the type of photographs I take when I travel to new cities. I am always drawn to graphic elements and the juxtapositions of buildings, signs, and their locations. And, indeed, most of Ward’s paintings are based off of photographs he’s taken over the years, primarily of Southern California. Though his work was not intended to address the nostalgia of these places, most of the images’ places he’s recreated have been altered or have entirely disappeared, his work becoming an archive of transitional places. Ward’s influences include Edward Hopper, Charles Scheeler, RIchard Estes, and Vermeer. A self-taught painter, Ward began his artistic career drawing pen and ink renditions of historical architecture, before experimenting first in gouache, then in acrylics. Of his work, Ward says,”I am most interested in depicting what Alan Watts called the mystery of the ordinary; the workaday world we live in without seeing until we are forced to focus upon it, as in a painting.”
Phyliss Lutjeans, a museum educator and curator observes,“Although Michael Ward may be called a neo-realist painter his work can ultimately be described as abstract realism. The picture image is photographically realistic, but within the context of the painting his compositions are complex and almost abstract. Deciphering the work section by section one sees how a multitiude of individual complete compositions are put together to form the entire work. For me the viewer is confronted by a realistic image that puzzles us and clearly tells the story simultaneously.” (via the paris review)
Erin McCarty paints from somewhere deep within. Her colorful, chaotic paintings often channel fear, anguish, and desire in ways that are palpable. The bold leaf- and crystal-like motifs used throughout seem somehow magically charged. All in all, I find it hard to believe that this artist is fairly fresh out of art school. It must be that the cold, crisp air of Alaska stimulates her creativity.
The sculptures of artist Takahiro Komuro feel conspicuously out of place in the real world. They nearly seemed to have been plucked from the video games, cartoons, and comics of a twenty-somthing’s childhood. Mutant superheros and villains, video game bosses, the often dramatic story lines of each perhaps reflected the anxieties of our parents at the time. Komuro’s sculptures capture this strange balance of youth and play on the one hand and deeper fears on the other.
Andrew Myers‘ uses unique medium to interesting effect. His pieces are built of many carefully placed screws – up to nearly 10,000 in just one piece – inserted to just the right depth. He then uses oils to pain the image on the heads of the screws. Myers accepts the challenges of depicting soft surfaces, movement, and light with a material as hard and utilitarian as screws. The result is an intriguing mix between painting and relief. The screws add to the depth to that typically found in oil painting.