Over the past few days, murals have appeared on the destroyed walls of buildings in the Ukrainian city of Borodyanka that can be traced back to Banksy‘s work in terms of theme and technique. In a post on his Instagram profile, the street artist himself claimed authorship of one of these works. The subject of the stencil is a gymnast, balanced vertically on her arms and with her legs spread, while with her face she looks down at the ground covered in rubble. Banksy chose to create this work in the city recently liberated from Russian occupation, however it is unclear whether the other mural is also his work. A child knocking down an adult black-belt Judo wrestler (a reference to Vladimir Putin probably); a woman in a dressing gown, gas mask and fire extinguisher; another gymnast and the silhouettes of children who appear to be sitting on a swing; these are some of the subjects that have appeared on the walls of the city, possibly the work of the artist, who has however not confirmed it.
Isabella Ståhl is a Swedish photographer who found herself rediscovering the landscapes of her childhood after traveling all over the world, starting from Stockholm to New York, Paris and Berlin. The North represents the cardinal point from which she initially moved, returning once she honed her artistic maturity, which allowed her to look at the rural, melancholy landscapes of her childhood in a new light. In Isabella Ståhl’s photos, nature with its vast fields and wild, untamed animals shrouded in fog, which also hides everything else in the landscape like a white blanket, dominates. The extraordinary loneliness of the compositions and the melancholy that enters straight into the viewers’ eyes are two of the main characteristics of the work of Ståhl, an established photographer who has collaborated with some of the most important international brands and publishers during her artistic career. Her ability is not only to be able to build a story behind the moments she chooses to shoot, but also to return like physical sensations of warmth, coldness, and chills that make everyone who stops to look at the photographs a protagonist.
Isabella Ståhl was recently a guest artist in the group exhibition ImageNation in New York, March 10-12, 2023, curated by Martin Vegas.
One only has to listen to the conversations that arise inside Cecilie Mengel‘s head to imagine how they might be represented photographically. The Danish artist and now resident in New York makes shots that are inner dialogues born from the stimuli she herself receives from her surroundings and the people with whom she experiences very everyday moments. The result is an artistic production that is marked by a strong variety in subjects and settings, as well as in style, sometimes documentary, other times closer to a certain posed and theatrical photography. They range from shots stolen in the home during a conversation to details of a can of Heinz sauce found in the glove compartment of a cab, all reconstructing a common, everyday story. Cecilie Mengel’s technique also reflects this same idea of variety. In fact, the artist combines digital and analog photography, in other cases post production adds graphic marks to the images. The lights are sometimes natural other times forcedly created with flash, creating a sense of the whole that is perhaps less homogeneous but rich in personal suggestions and recounts.
Cecilie Mengel was recently a guest artist in the group exhibition ImageNation in New York, March 10-12, 2023 curated by Martin Vegas.
A delicate, almost transparent and imperceptible veil floats before our eyes and filters reality, which becomes subjective and never absolute. The philosopher Schopenhauer called it “the veil of Maya,” that impediment that prohibits man from experiencing reality, that deludes us into thinking we know Truth. Photographer Diego Dominici places it between the viewer and his subjects, transforming it into the actual protagonist of the Atman and Red Cloudsseries. The figures – men and women – are trapped in the veil, struggling with it trying to escape, clinging tightly to it, trying to penetrate it; in other cases, instead, they welcome it, lying down and conforming to its persuading softness. The viewer is only allowed to catch a glimpse of the shapes of their naked bodies and their bones imprinted on the surface, in a dance of light and shadow that convey sensuality and loneliness at the same time.
Diego Dominici attempts to break the two-dimensionality of photography, creating two planes of depth: the one dictated by the fabric and its ripples and the one in which the subject is placed. The viewer’s eye is led to move continuously over the surface, trying to overcome it and thus reach the subject and its forms therefore, in other words, the Truth. The analogy with human psychology is stated by the photographer who wants to “rip apart two-dimensionality to investigate the tangles of human interiority.” As in his shots, human beings can choose to be lulled by the veil of illusion, be caressed by a fictitious reality and stand firm on their point of view, or they can choose to break it, thus reaching the other side and look at reality from another perspective. The fabric, or rather the veil, becomes the emblem of relational barriers, those obstacles that come between us and others, which prevent us from understanding the motives of others and create unbridgeable distances. At the same time, the veil becomes part of us, a kind of wrapping that envelops and shapes us, preventing us from going beyond it. But, as Schopenhauer said, the veil of Maya must be torn down, ripped open like a Fountain’s canvas, human must shed the envelope like a snake changing its skin, in order to open up to the other. After all, what is love if not “the cancellation of the ego, the collapse of all conscious discrimination and the renunciation of all methodical choice?” said Salvador Dali in My Secret Life. Diego Dominici’s works thus invite deep intimate reflection but, thanks to his carefully curated aesthetics, they can also simply satisfy the eye and appear as sensual works, in which the veil becomes a prelude to intimate pleasure.
He was first a great teacher, educator and essayist, then also a great photographer, who linked his career to portraiture and later to the world of fashion. Over the course of his career RodneySmith (1947-2016) depicted meticulously constructed, humorous, paradoxical, romantic and funny scenes, which will now be collected in a volume entitled “Rodney Smith: A Leap of Faith,” containing more than two hundred photographs – some previously unpublished – just acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum. The project and the Getty acquisition trace a creative trajectory that has made fantasy and elegance a true photographic strand. Viewers are invited to activate a comparison with the Surrealist René Magritte, the painter who comes closest to Rodney Smith in themes and subject matter, as Getty Museum curator Paul Martineau describes Smith: “…like Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, his photographs lead us down the rabbit hole to a fantastical place that is just beyond our reach but one intended to inspire us to be better versions of ourselves.“
Collater.al has selected six of Rodney Smith’s most beautiful photographs, A Leap of Faith, the impression is that of frames from a fantasy film or scenes from a great costume musical, with the protagonists dancing and kissing over the roof of a yellow New York taxi cab.