Capsule Reviews

Our critics survey the local art scene

Esteban Pastorino Diaz The photographs of this young Argentinean artist succeed as form and product--both compositionally and conceptually. Currently showing are three different types of photographs by Diaz, the panoramica, aerial views and night shots of architecture. Originally schooled in engineering, Diaz is a photographer most interested in process. For his panoramicas and aerial views, Diaz devised two contraptions, a strip camera and a camera attached to a kite. Fixed to his car, the strip camera captures images in movement, resulting in long, thin and distorted panoramic views of urban vistas. The kite-camera apparatus reduces large landscapes into toy-like architectural models. Diaz's architectural photography, the third genre on view, takes the usually utilitarian act of documenting architecture and adds an eerie patina. Shot at night, these gum biochromate images of 30s-era monuments are beautiful if not slightly nostalgic. Through October 16 at Photographs Do Not Bend, 3115 Routh St., 214-969-1852. Reviewed this week. (Charissa N. Terranova)

Ann Stautberg: Recent Photographs At first blush, Stautberg's large-scale photographs of plants seem rather old-school and humdrum. Even getting physically closer to them, trying to penetrate them by studying the surface for evidence of craft and fabrication, does little to make them come alive. But the raison d'être of these images is located precisely in what you don't see. It is in their subtlety and process--in the fact that they are painted photographs. Combining painting and photography, Stautberg's approach is delightfully mongrel. The process is something akin to painted postcards of the late 19th century. But the look is far different. Stautberg makes clean form out of organic substance, and the way she does it is, intellectually speaking, the most interesting part. Through October 16 at Barry Whistler Gallery, 2909-B Canton St., 214-939-0259. (C.T.)

Wherever I Go, There I Am, Polaroid Self-Portraits by Julie Ross Julie Ross has a penchant for the beauty and elegance of easy production--and it's doing her right. Shooting from the hip as it were, Ross has discovered the amazing possibilities of the photographic readymade--the Polaroid snapshot. For Ross, the Polaroid snapshot provides a perversely accessible sense of authenticity since singularity and chance are part of its mechanical apparatus. The Polaroid image is always without a negative and by definition lends itself to on-the-spot non-deliberative shooting. While they are once-in-a-lifetime images, the subject matter remains constant. Limbs outstretched and camera nimbly if not precariously balanced at arm's length, Ross always shoots herself, usually capturing her head and neck in distorted form. For the most part, though, the distortions are a result of the machine and its necessary accoutrements of film and light. Ross uses outdated film, sometimes even the wrong film, to create variations in color palette, with the verdigris tones not so unusual to Polaroid shots giving way to blues, grays and silvers. Yellow light dances like lightning across blurred fleshy composition, the blurs arising sometimes from the topsy-turvyness of the setup and other times from the artist's choice of odd but simple guises. Further disturbing any such sense of equilibrium are the images in which the artist has pulled pantyhose over her head. Here the beauty of light and muted tones gives way to the macabre of lifelike but faceless babies. These images bring to mind the distorted doll forms of the Polish-born Berlin-based avant-gardist, Hans Belmer. On a similar note, while her own training as an artist seems to be just budding, her work nevertheless reveals a lifetime of references, from the dynamism and incisiveness of Giacamo Balla and Man Ray to the jaunty nonchalance of Andy Warhol and Richard Prince. Stay tuned...I hope we see more. Through October 2 at Gray Matters Gallery, 113 N. Haskell Ave., 214-824-7108. (C.T.)

 
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