Sunday, May 22, 2011

This Time I'm Doing It

While You Wait for Another (2011) By Pakayla Rae Biehn

It's been a long time since I've visited a gallery on the opening night of an exhibit. I'm more of a late Thursday afternoon art haunt. Well, this Saturday I decided to change up the routine and attend an opening. Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City is one of my favorite venues and the show included art by Pakayla Rae Biehn, an artist towards whom I have great admiration. The show was entitled "Being There" and also featured the work of Jeff Ramirez, a hyperrealistic painter.

And so I braved actual contact with people to bring you this report. ;-)

Sissy Spacek (2011) by Jeff Ramirez

Both artists featured in "Being There" are big on realism in detail and figural representation, but seem to avoid clear facial depictions. This creates a tension in the image between the specific and the ambiguous. This may be the aesthetic theme of the show. The meticulous realism of the details creates a basis or "ground" for a coherent sense of actuality; there is something there. However, the missing piece or obscurement undermines this coherence. Both artists create this tension in different manners.

Pakayla Rae Biehn uses a technique derived from photography, the double exposure. By combining the image of a person with another image, as though both are coexistent and simultaneous, the presence of the figural subject, either physically or mentally, becomes confused. Because the figure is grounded with authentic detail, the "Being" is not in doubt, but the "There" is.

Forgetting Why, Remembering How (2011) by Pakayla Rae Biehn

The woman in this painting appears to be sitting, her head inclined and face obscured from the light by her long hair. Overlapping her is the image of flowers in bloom upon a branch. Do the flowers signify her emotional or mental state? If so, do they represent a desire to "escape" from her current place or do they symbolize her actual situation. In short, how does the coexistent image relate to her actuality of "being there"?

Jeff Ramirez approaches the theme with a different approach. He "crops" or "covers" a section of the figure. His paintings are of amazing craftsmanship, creating a strong sense of veracity. Therefore, the depicted emotion or energy of the figural subject feels authentic. But. . .

Pink Godzilla (2011) by Jeff Ramirez

The context becomes confused by the missing elements. Look at the image above. The hand looks to be caught is vigorous motion. Being up against a brick wall, we can imagine that the emotions behind such action are not positive. Is the hand flailing in anger? Is it thrashing in pain or terror? There are no viable clues to place the image in an emotional context. The hand is "There" but what is the state of its "Being"?

Anyways, this is an excellent show. I encourage you to go check it out.

Everything that Can Happen in a Day (2010) by Pakayla Rae Biehn

Here is the Thinkspace Gallery website.

Here is Pakayla Rae Biehn's website.

And here is Jeff Ramirez's website.

Also, here's an interesting interview of Pakayla Rae Biehn at the Erratic Phenomena blog. Good stuff!


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