Of The Flesh

June 23, 2012

in Museums and Galleries

Photo constructions by Tara Sellios

Gallery Kayafas
450 Harrison Avenue, Boston

Tara Sellios, "Retribution I"

Tara Sellios, Retribution I
Image courtesy of Gallery Kayafas

Photographic still lifes, sometimes with lovely compositions, making use of corporeally intense elements.

This show mostly of photo constructions – still lifes drawn, then set up and photographed – is based on the general theme of the seven deadly sins.

A certain amount of grotesquerie pervades this series, but, regardless of the content, there are, in certain of its elements, moments of wonderful composition.

In particular I was struck by Retribution I, a depiction of a network – essentially a pile – of eels. It is totally gross, but there is also something beautiful in the way it is put together. The amalgam has a unity and a force, seeming like a monkey-fisted knot of protoplasm, vivid, rhythmic and pulsing in three dimensions. The coherence and the dimension of the image are striking. And the distance between the satisfyingly formal nature of the visual amalgam and the disgustingness of the individual elements is also striking.

Several other works in the artist’s catalogue demonstrate an equivalent sense of adept composition in other still life arrangements, also formally satisfying and sometimes equally gross.

This show, in photographic form, demonstrates some of the contemporary artistic fascination with butchered animals that Damien Hirst brought to wide attention in the notorious Sensation show of the Saatchi collection at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 1997, and then at the Brooklyn Museum in New York in 1999.

Hirst, famously in Some Comfort Gained from the Acceptance of the Inherent Lies in Everything (1996) in that show, mounted a butchered cow in a sequence of formaldehyde tanks and allowed the sculptural framing to provide a sense of attenuated pause in the face of its vivid grotesquerie.

In a different mode, Sellios manipulates her flesh piles into vivid, rhythmic compositions, bringing to this subject matter an interest in and talent for still-life renderings. It makes for a striking opposition of form and content.

– BADMan

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