Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Photography Cut and Stitched: German Gomez at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery

Photography can be a passive medium, and photography presented as art can sometimes seem only inches away from what anyone can do with a digital camera and a sunny day. Rarely are there sensual clues - surface technique or obvious texture - as in other mediums. A fine eye and quick reflexes often make the difference between the ordinary and the significant in photography, but such nuances may be missed or taken for granted. German Gomez, whose work is currently at Bridgette Mayer Gallery in Philadelphia, is not so subtle. His large format portraits of men take different forms and address different issues, but all are bold statements enhanced in some way by subtractive or additive manipulation, including cutting, stitching and collage. Gomez, who is from Madrid, appears to have chosen his subjects for their dark-eyed, romantic good looks; even jagged alterations to faces and bodies fail to mar a sturdy attractiveness. A section of the show called 'Tatuados' (Tattooed) features 'fichados' - men with police records - posed with the insouciance of fashion models while flaunting memorable, delicately drawn tattoos; the hard facts of their police identities under the photos both contradict and emphasize the beauty of the images. Gomez's Composed series, as the series title implies, includes collaged portraits that incorporate different angles of the same face, evoking a surreal play of mental and physical identity. Some portraits make use of stitching with black thread and translucent layers, a rich effect with endless possibilities, while others have a harsher, more insistent push into the macabre. Gomez's work is provocative and at times unsettling, yet it never relinquishes a enduring sense of clean magnetic beauty.

Images courtesty of the Bridgette Mayer Gallery