Tag Archives: portraits

Projections: An Interactive Portrait Project

rh-rabodzeenko-portraits-1

“Interactive” is quite a buzzword in the art world these days, but what does it really mean?  The term suggests an expectation  of physical contact between gallery visitor and artwork. It also subtly implies that the mere act of contemplating a work of art isn’t enough to reach the public in this age of the internet and ever-shortening attention spans.

Andrei Rabodzeenko, though, is confident in the power of visual art to engage his audience. It is on this cerebral level that his work invites interaction.rh-rabodzeenko-portrait-2

The freestanding painted figures in Projections grab your attention and demand a response.  Rabodzeenko’s life-size, slickly painted portraits of his friends (and himself) define the boundaries of the space within which gallery visitors  must circle and observe.  There is an intentional roughness to the way the cut-outs are sited, provisionally propped up on wooden supports and sandbagged in place as if they were scenery in a theater.  Arranged in an informal installation throughout Toledo’s River House Gallery, these flat wooden portraits seem to imply some kind of in-the-round  theatrical performance of obscure significance.

Radzeenko, born in Kyrgyzstan but now living and working in Chicago, is first and foremost an accomplished painter, an art chameleon who can paint in any style. He mixes visual idioms for maximum effect, frequently combining several within one artwork.  In Projections, he seamlessly moves from virtuosic tromp l’oeil illusionism to  flat advertising illustration to religious icon painting.rh-rabodzeenko-selfportrait Whether they are engaging in some activity, or merely pausing on their way, the figures often look directly at you.  The artist offers no explanation for the choice of personal emblem (an out-size ginkgo leaf?  A backpack of musical symbols?) or activity. These are clearly portraits of real people, but in the absence of information about them you must invent your own narrative, as is the artist’s intent:

Our identities are an amalgam of ever-shifting and overlapping projections-we create projections of ourselves, our alter egos, and launch them into the world.  At the same time, the world projects its interpretations of us onto us.

Some figures are more mysteriously resonant than others. The black-suited self portrait in the middle of the gallery is especially successful. The roughness of the O.S.B. ground and the square piercing of the subject’s shirt add interest to the accomplished painting.  The direct and slightly sad gaze of the figure is reminiscent of the mood in Rembrandt’s self-portraits.

I also liked the portraits of  two men digging up (or burying?) treasure. The man on the right is focused on someone or something that is invisible, and raises his hand in warning (or greeting?) The kneeling figure on the left looks delighted at the cut-out blaze emanating from the treasure box before him.

Projections also includes a series of painted hangings which ring the gallery’s outside walls. Translucent outlines of male and female figures float weightlessly across the picture plane, intersecting but not interacting, platonic shadows of idealized humans. They are well executed but lack the specificity and bite of the three-dimensional work.

Rabodzeenko’s continuing confidence in the power of visual art to move us is evident in  Projections. His accomplished portrait figures invite visual engagement and convey an air of mystery that will linger in the minds of his audience long after they have left the gallery.

Projections: An Interactive Portrait Project by Andrei Rabodzeenko, is on view at River House Gallery in Toledo, Ohio, until January 7, 2017.  For more information about gallery hours go here.

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“Them” at Butter Projects in Royal Oak

Luxury, identity, class, perversity, carnality, playfulness… Royal Oaks’ Butter Projects has stirred it all together to create a thoughtful visual feast that describes what lies on the surface and what lies beneath.  “THEM” is loosely framed around portraiture, commonly defined as a representation or likeness of a specific individual, but each artist has gone far beyond the mere creation of a likeness to portray the unseen  reality below the surface.

Thirty-three beautifully rendered black and white gestural portrait studies by William Irving Singer anchor the show against an meticulously painted blue brocade background.  The portraits, which are made with black acrylic on coarse un-primed canvas, comment ironically on the society portrait as a signifier of wealth and importance. The lone likeness by Singer which features color, entitled Some Sort of Lunch Line, seems to portray a member of the have-not class who nonetheless sports a kind of jaunty elegance. somesortoflunchline

Works by Lauren Kalman consist of fetishistic photographs of  hooded women. The effect of these photographs is ominous and seems to indicate that the woman portrayed is engaged in some kind of luxurious pearl-encrusted sex play. She is not powerless, but she is immobilized.

The photographs are accompanied by formal hood-like clay or pigskin sculptures, some with corks or objects stuffed in the apertures where one would expect to find eyes or mouths. They are both humorous  and disturbing.

But if the crime is beautiful

As if to add some lightness to this otherwise serious exploration of the self, Butter Projects has included three-dimensional work from artist Kat Burdine. These canines are engaged in doing what dogs do and doing it with abandon: pooping, groveling and licking…no inner angst here. Entitled “Strays” these  chunky life-sized wooden creatures project a kind of joy in spite of  their displacement.

butter dog

During the run of the exhibition, Butter Projects will hold open hours Saturdays and Sundays from 1-3pm. Additional hours can be made by appointment. Them will be on exhibit until May 7, 2016

Butter Projects is an artist run studio and exhibition space. For more information contact Alison Wong butter.projects@gmail.com

Butter Projects, 814 W. 11 Mile, Royal Oak, MI 48067

 

 

 

 

David Eichenberg in Moldova

David Eichenberg (he of the hyper-realist portraits on aluminum in the TAA95 exhibit)  is currently in a show in Chisinau, Moldova at the Natural History Museum.
The show is called “An International Exhibition: The Figure as seen by the Eyes of Contemporary Artists” It is curated by Italian Hyper-realist Painter Giuseppe Muscio in conjunction with the Italian Embassy in Chisinau. It will run from the February 10 – 25, 2015.