“I would have to say all the work is based on the idea of the unconventional portrait,” Alison Brady said. “My work questions the state of normality. What I find most disturbing is the subtle distortion of something I can relate to. I seek to evoke that sense of familiarity through the use of homely, middle class signifiers, such as wallpaper and recognizably domestic spaces. Within the familiar or ‘normal,’ elements of the unknown and inexplicable present themselves.”
“I love that each of the artists in ‘4 x 4’ has a different perspective on the figure,” said Mandy Corrado, whose Reflections of the Muse series rethinks one of fine art’s most unquestioned relationships—that of the artist and the figure model. “It’s intriguing to me to see the juxtaposition between figures who are turning away from the viewer, as in David Schoerner’s work, versus people who stare directly back at the viewer, as do the children in Martynka Wawrzyniak’s images. Similarly, in Alison Brady’s photos, the female figures are transformed through layers of artifice, whereas in my self portraits I am completely bare, hiding nothing.”
If Mandy Corrado’s photographs deal in reflection, David Schoerner’s series, After Betty, is about reverberation—specifically, the back and forth relationship between painting and art exemplified by Gerhard Richter’s 1988 painting Betty, which was adapted from a photograph done in the style of painters like Johannes Vermeer. “I think painting and drawing can open things up for photography, allowing subjects to be seen in a different manner,” Schoerner said. “However, when photography was first invented, it also allowed for painting to free itself from its super-realistic tendencies to become something more abstract as well.”
Among the subjects Schoerner photographed for After Betty was Martynka Wawrzyniak, whose own works in “4 x 4” depict children whose facial expressions seem to foreshadow adulthood. “Years ago,” she said, “I took a close up portrait of a young girl that I liked the look of, and I decided to do a whole series like this. I liked the way the harshness of the flash made the kids resemble adults. I was going through a rough period of obsessively pondering over my own childhood, dissecting it to try to figure out it made me who I am today (my Saturn return). I wanted to capture some of the anxiety that begins in childhood and carries on into our adult lives.”
“4 x 4” flaunts the frailty of the taken-for-granted borders between childhood and adulthood, photography and painting, artist and subject, order and chaos. A feeling of destabilization is not uncommon. Normalization is not forthcoming. The show raises questions that agitate not so much a desire for resolution as a need for it.
“I envision the role of the artist as that of posing questions, rather than providing answers,” Alison Brady said. “Answering one’s own questions, in my opinion, often makes for lousy art.”
Top photo: Martynka Wawrzyniak; Second photo: Alison Brady4 x 4 The Paul Kopeikin Gallery 8810 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90089, (310) 385-5894