Blythe Projects, directed and curated by Hillary Metz, concentrates on showing mid-career artists of all media. The current exhibit, Work in Progress presents the mediums of neon, painting, sculpture, drawing, and photography.
I am particularly drawn to Borkur Sigthorsson’s Conditions series, large scale photographic nudes. These are not your predictable study of the female form. Sigthorsson’s nudes are intimate revelations of woman as landscape. Emotional and physical landscape. The following is taken from exhibition information:
“Conditions is a continuing series of poignant, sometimes unsettling, portraits. In his inaugural installment, Börkur reveals the physical, mental and emotional landscapes of an individual under the strain of addiction, fear and cultural alienation”.
A large woman, 18 years of age, is presented to us in all her exquisite mass. Her physical scale demands our attention. First, you look at the images because you are suppose to. After all, you walked into a gallery. Next, you feel an uneasiness in your stomach. We are taught to be protective of vulnerability, and this young woman is frankly revealing her outer and inner being, so you look away out of respect. When the uneasiness settles, you look again, this time inspecting each image thoroughly. What you find are human landscapes so honest and luscious you have to resist the temptation to touch the fold upon fold upon fold of her flesh.
Part of this emotional pull is because of the photographer’s choice in executing the images. The trend today is to use a hyper-white background for everything from products to portraits. Sigthorsson resisted, and seems to have used a white seamless background, letting it turn to a bluish-gray hue that is close in value to the tones of the woman’s skin. The pinks of the skin and blues of the veins under the skin blend pleasingly into the background, enhancing the landscape feeling of the work. Conditions 7 is so successful, it reminds me of Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace in Yellowstone National Park. The Hot Springs are one of the most unusually beautiful places in America, and these nudes are beautiful in an unusual way as well.
Work in Progress runs through February 25th, 2010. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 11-6.
Blythe Projects is located at 5795 West Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232