Gallery Talk: SAT FEB 10 | 4pm
On View: JAN 27 - MAR 3
The artwork in Unveiled is informed by the vocabularies of painter Mequitta Ahuja, photographer Milana Braslavsky, and sculptor Sebastian Martorana. These artists pay tribute to the artistic traditions of portraiture, still lifes, and memorials, respectively, while illuminating or subverting the common conceits that define those traditions.
Through the language of portraiture, Mequitta Ahuja’s large-scale paintings and video position women of color, usually in her own image, at the center of a discourse on representation in art. In her own words, “The figurative painting tradition…is the unseen made visible through a meaningful fiction.” She creates a personal and contemporary fiction within her works, bringing to light issues of race and representation throughout the history of traditional figurative painting: “My work is a form of tribute, analysis and intervention: tribute out of sincere admiration for the figurative tradition; analysis, by making something vast,” the role of race in the history of figurative painting “comprehensible to both myself and to my viewers; and intervention, by positioning a woman-of-color as primary picture-maker, in whose hands the figurative tradition is refashioned.”
Milana Braslavsky’s photography uses the format of the still life to meditate on her family’s relocation and assimilation from the former USSR to the United States. She takes meaningful and personal household items and gives them new identities within her work. These objects are often altered or presented as modified versions of their original forms to further evoke this sense of relocation and discomfort. The photographs function as documentation of a distorted feeling, of trying to appear normal but being slightly off kilter, which is a characterization of assimilation. In these photographs she strives for inclusion, using the vocabulary of the still life to express this deeper message.
Playing with conventions of memorial sculpture, Sebastian Martorana mines salvaged marble elements from Baltimore and breathes new life into them as highly realistic, stand-alone objects. While pieces such as carved marble gloves, a plush stuffed lamb, and a draped canvas are convincingly real portrayals, his work is more than simply trompe-l’œil. The artist strives for the feeling of both the stone and the essence of the subject, which “shakes up the expectations of the viewer” by forcing them to reconcile the inanimate material with the viewer’s living memory of that object. Martorana memorializes the intense dedication it takes to create such virtuous and graceful forms through his own skill and attention to detail without sacrificing the recognizability of the stone itself.
Contemporary artists examine the traditions of portrait, still life, and memorial