Art review: Strong, arresting work in Atlanta Photography Group show


Though the photographers in the Atlanta Photography Group’s juried exhibition “Portfolio 2017” are wildly, stylistically diverse and hail from all corners of the United States and abroad, in concert they work a kind of magic.

It might have to do with guest juror and independent curator Andy Adams’ great choices in these six participating photographers. Adams has a clear love of the figure and of the many ways photographers can manipulate and experiment with its supremacy. But beyond that at times unifying theme of portraiture, this group show is a splendid mix of unique points of view and memorable work.

The six photographers featured in “Portfolio 2017” hail from as far away as Moscow and as close as Birmingham, Ala. Most work in black and white, though Muncie, Ind., photographer Mark Sawrie is the outlier whose steeped-in-quirk color images find the strangeness in ordinary situations. Taking a cool, measured appraisal of the physical world, Sawrie finds all manner of weirdness afoot. Sawrie shoots planet Earth like an alien observer, highlighting an array of the visual non sequiturs and delicious little accidents life can often yield, as in “Jesus Objects,” where an array of structures in the landscape — billboard, telephone pole and fallen wooden pole — somehow evokes a medley of crucifixes.

Savannah photographer Emily Earl and Moscow photographer Elena Nikitina take a documentary approach in their work, though their subjects couldn’t be more different.

Earl’s quarry are scantily clad hipster party animals sporting Bettie Page bangs and a sullen expression, leather hot pants and rhinestone bras, all bathed in lo-fi glamour. Young women pose with their motorcycles, or vamp in lingerie in images with a fleeting resemblance to Nan Goldin’s party people images of New York City nightcrawlers.

Nikitina’s photographs home in on ordinary life in Russia in humanistic images of tired grandmothers sprawled out for a midday nap in a bedroom decorated with kitty posters or a little girl joyously hopping down a dirt road in an expression of blissfully uninhibited freedom. The images are gentle, delicate and utterly unlike San Francisco artist Samantha Geballe’s confrontational, wonderfully subversive self-portraits in “Self-Untitled.” Defying the typical photographic devotion to supple, perfect, photogenic flesh, Geballe’s approach more often conjures up British painter Lucian Freud.

Geballe is a sad-eyed, tattooed young woman whose rippled flesh and corpulent body are an affront to standard issue notions of an ideal female form. Her kindred spirit in “Portfolio 2017” is Houston’s Rashed Haq, whose “Unmasked” series of manipulated portraits seeks to capture the emotional states of his subjects and has the unsettling effect of cubist paintings or work by Joel-Peter Witkin. Exaggerating features, like a horrifyingly gaping mouth full of teeth in “Woman in a Boat of the Dead,” Haq sees plasticity in the human face, molding and shaping it like clay to create the stuff of nightmares.

In contrast, Birmingham’s David Diodate collects specimens — an animal skull, a wasp’s nest, a bird or boll of cotton — that feel like beloved treasures in a cigar box collection, beautiful relics of the natural world. As much sculptural objects as photographs, Diodate mounts his nature studies on board and coats them in a gooey layer of wax and resin. Diodate’s images are poetic, perhaps a little overworked with all those busy layers, but arresting nevertheless.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

‘American Idol’ notes: Ryan Seacrest in Atlanta, Kelly Clarkson, Nick Fradiani
‘American Idol’ notes: Ryan Seacrest in Atlanta, Kelly Clarkson, Nick Fradiani

East Atlanta Strut: 16 things to do this weekend around Atlanta
East Atlanta Strut: 16 things to do this weekend around Atlanta

It's finally fall. Even though the weather feels more like summer, you'll still find plenty of events to help you ring in the new season this weekend.  Whether you enjoy pets, classic cars or arts and crafts, counties all around the Metro are brimming with fall festivals and family-friendly fun.  Let this event lineup help you celebrate...
#Teamnatural: 6 easy-to-do, protective natural hairstyles
#Teamnatural: 6 easy-to-do, protective natural hairstyles

Everyone needs a hair makeover from time-to-time.  Give your natural hair a must needed rest from heat and styling to help protect your locks from damage. Through protective styling, women of color can achieve beautiful hair styles that aren't difficult to install and don't require much maintenance. Though these styles give your hair a break...
Michael Carbonaro returns to Atlanta, this time the Fox Theatre
Michael Carbonaro returns to Atlanta, this time the Fox Theatre

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 13: Michael Carbonaro attends the Turner Upfront 2015 at Madison Square Garden on May 13, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Turner) This was posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog Michael Carbonaro of truTV’s hidden-camera...
AT&T and DIRECTV may drop CBS46 and Peachtree TV in Atlanta
AT&T and DIRECTV may drop CBS46 and Peachtree TV in Atlanta

This was posted on Thursday, September 21, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog Subscribers of AT&T and DIRECTV might lose access to Meredith-owned CBS46 (WGCL-TV) and Peachtree TV (WPCH-TV) tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 22, if the two sides can’t come to an agreement. CBS46 and Peachtree TV have begun...
More Stories