whitehot | May 2007, WM Issue # 3: Black and White @ Faufitown Projects, Santa Monica CA
Currently on exhibition at the Faufitown Projects/Patricia Correia Gallery is a collection of black and white photography that transcends the limits of reality through careful setup and production.
The gallery features the work of artists Gabriel Figueroa-Flores, Mexico based artist and son of the famous cinematographer, Gabriel Figueroa, Chris Gwyn, artist based out of Brooklyn, NY, and, the duo, Jeff Charbonneau and Eliza French, both based out of Los Angeles, CA.
What ties the four artists together in this exhibition is their ability to create a fictional reality that transcends the boundaries of traditional approaches to photographing landscapes, architecture and people.
With Figueroa-Flores, it is his way ability to create a bizarre sense of alienation through the careful placement of people within the majority of his photographs on display. The photographs in the exhibition are the production of the artist’s many years of restoring his fathers’ images and assimilating them into a cross temporal dialogue between the two artists.
In El Paricutin (2003), we see at a surface glance a close up of a large mound. However, upon closer examination, a white speck comes into focus to reveal a man in a white suit on the side of the mound. The mans seemingly irrelevant existence is exploited by the juxtaposition of his small figure against the massive mound. This use of extremes heightens the sense of solitude that is found throughout this particular set.
Chris Gwyn is masterful with his use of angles and selective lightening. Two of his photographs involve architecture as the focal point of the work and in each it is obvious that Gwyn is drawn to the emotional power of lines in architecture. His photographs are highly contrasting which allow for very powerful focal points and his use of grain adds a nice textural finish to the photos.
The final set in this exhibition come from a collaboration between artists Jeff Charbonneau and Eliza French. These artists have a flare for the gothic fairy tale and they do it well. The world of Charbonneau and French is less desolate than that of Figueroa-Flores’s but no more certain of the future of humanity. While Figueroa-Flores’s artwork could be said to represent man’s isolation from the natural world, Charbonneau and French’s photographs represent humanity’s stifling and unnerving turn toward a kind of new Victorianism.
All four artists use of black and white photography is soothing when compared to the never ending medium of consumerist spectacle that has a penchant for exploiting the minds inherent tendency toward cheap aesthetic thrills. The artwork on display is both intellectual and artistic and ultimately provoking. Certainly worth a visit.
The gallery is located at Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Avenue, space E-2, Santa Monica, CA 90404. The exhibition is running from now until July 7, 2007. After you’re done checking out the cool art, head on over to Santa Monica Pier, which is only a few minutes away, for a lovely sunset dinner near the waves (I like to buy pizza and have a picnic on the sand). Or, if you have money, art auctions seem to be going on a lot at Bergamot Station, so be a good rich person and feed an artist.
Noah Becker: Editor-in-Chief