Seeing Things at Roger Chamieh’s Apophenia by Danny Olda

These are not grand existential statements. As people may have once been anxious over soul and salvation, today are likewise of car accidents, peanut allergies, smile lines and crow’s feet …

These are not grand existential statements. As people may have once been anxious over soul and salvation, today are likewise of car accidents, peanut allergies, smile lines and crow’s feet – a helpless body. Fittingly, the sculptures of Roger Chamieh’s current solo exhibit nearly appear to sag and be pinched, to wheeze and groan.

Broken, APOPHENIA : Recent Works from Roger Chamieh, Photos by Danny Olda

Despite their imposing size (only four pieces fit inside the Tempus Projects’ gallery) certain fragility colors each piece. For example, the show’s centerpiece projects this idea directly in its title, Broken. The sculpture, using a dining table as a departure point, lies slumped over on one end. The table is missing two of its legs as if it’s a double amputee propping itself up. A giant phonograph horn-like funnel penetrates the table. An antique speaker at its base under the table produces what Chamieh’s website describes as “layered guttural and thoracic sounds”. Indeed, the sculpture sounds as if it’s groaning from the metallic pit deep in its throat.

Apoxia, APOPHENIA : Recent Works from Roger Chamieh, Photos by Danny Olda

A theme that appears in two of the exhibit’s sculptures is breathing or rather, difficulty breathing. One piece’s title, Anoxia, refers to an extreme depletion of oxygen. The other, Daddy’s Girl, similarly makes use of a gas mask installed on the gallery wall. Rather than some sort of filter, though, the mask is fitted with a set of chrome lungs. Inside the mask, where the eyes would be, plays a single channel video similar to a home movie. The piece, perhaps, betrays a parental anxiety, a fear of the multifarious threats to one’s child.

Daddy’s Little Girl, APOPHENIA : Recent Works from Roger Chamieh, Photos by Danny Olda

Really, the entire exhibit does not seem to investigate some grand (and pretentious) existential view of death. Rather, the gallery is filled with a lingering near paranoic fear of dying peculiar to modern life. This isn’t a primal fear of survival, but one of a 5-ounce bottle of liquid on a plane or the newest carcinogen. Chamieh’s sculptures struggle for breath as if hyperventilating, suffocating under a crushing anxiey. Apophenia, the title of the exhibit, is the tendency to find meaning in patterns in which they do not exist. Much like a hypocondriac building pestilence from trivialities, or even an art critic finding meaning in an art exhibit.

APOPHENIA : Recent Works from Roger Chamieh, Photos by Danny Olda
APOPHENIA : Recent Works from Roger Chamieh
November 16 – December 4, 2012
TEMPUS PROJECTS, Tampa, FL


Danny Olda is a Tampa based artist and publisher of
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Olda Reviews: Like Water, Plain Yet Potent

Perhaps the most encompassing thing that can be said about Michelle Fader’s work is that it’s definitely pleasant to look at. This is intended to be both a compliment and a criticism.

by Danny Olda

Flush the toilet, wash down a pill, take a bath, drive through the rain, swig a bottle of Dasani, drown. Despite its ubiquitous nature (or perhaps because of it) water makes for incredibly potent symbolism – a potency that is not lost on artist Michelle Fader. As a theme, water flows through Michelle Fader’s solo exhibit, Toward Evening, at the USF Centre Gallery.

Toward Evening showcases a number of untitled photographed portraits by Michelle Fader with her polished and professional style. Perhaps the most encompassing thing that can be said about Fader’s work is that it’s definitely pleasant to look at. This is intended to be both a compliment and a criticism.

Olda

In the best photos of the exhibit Fader takes full advantage of the water imagery and its multiplicity of possible readings. A few of the photographs depict a woman lying on her back in water up to her face. They each vary in color and subject but portray the same basic scene. These photos appear to make a clear reference to John Everett Millais’ Ophelia – a young woman committing suicide. The young woman in one of the photos looks particularly worried, though, (as contrasted with the tranquil Ophelia) and harshly lit as if by a search light.

However, the more peaceful subjects, rather than committing suicide, could be involved in a water birth, or simply bathing. This simple scene, shot in subtly different ways, personally recalled charged situations of birthing, bathing, and dying which in turn carry charged meanings. Speaking of water, Fader mentions in her artist statement that “the work represents the element’s innate ability to be both a creator and destroyer of life, and acts as a metaphor for the duality that can occur deep within the subconscious”. The best photos in this exhibit execute this wonderfully. These particular pieces are pleasant not only look at but also to read and deconstruct.

However, some of the photos are nearly too pleasant. The art world has been enamored with the ugly and gritty for some time now – this is not the spectrum end that I’m suggesting Fader travel to. She needn’t shed her glossy style for relevancy – think of the uber-production of Cindy Sherman’s newer work. What the hyper-refined photos of Sherman share with the grainy and grungy work of Diane Arbus is an underlying unpleasantness. This ‘unpleasantness’ counters a feeling of complacency – without which some of Fader’s work veers from fine art to fashion photography.

It should be mentioned that, as a personal rule, I don’t review student work in a student gallery. However, I thought you might appreciate the tip-off on Fader now – if this is her starting point she’s definitely an artist worth watching. Fader’s clear technical skill shows her to be an adept photographer. More importantly, though, her promise in image and meaning manipulation shows her promise as an artist.


Danny Olda is our Tampa Correspondent and publisher of
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The Goods: Weekend News (02.17.12)

Sarasota Visual Art’s round up of information, upcoming exhibitions, and events. Todd Smith, Romare Bearden, Tampa Museum of Art, Nancy Turner, New College, Dunedin Fine Art Center, Robert Lovejoy, Vadim Bolshakov, Gwendolyn Fryer

Todd Smith on Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections
The Tampa Museum of Art is pleased to present an exhibition of approximately 70 works of art that span the career of ROMARE BEARDEN. Executive Director of Tampa Museum of Art, Todd Smith, interviews with Sarasota Visual Art about the exhibit.
Romare Bearden close up from "On the Block"

Featured Artist: Nancy Turner
Nancy is an artist printmaker who derives inspiration for her work from the people closest to her, from the news media, and from other artists. She uses art as a language to convey information about issues that are important to her.

nancy turner
Head, Hands & Feet, Nancy Turner

Olda Reviews: Contain It! … Ok, Not So Much.
Review of the Dunedin Fine Art Center – Contain It!



2012 New College Juried Student Art Exhibition
Current – The fourth annual New College Juried Student Art Exhibition features sculpture, painting, drawing and printmaking work by 16 New College of Florida students.

ICON: The Work Of Three Artists Re-Examines Iconography
Monday – An image, picture or representation. A sign or likeness that stands for an object, a symbol. Featuring artists; Robert Lovejoy, Vadim Bolshakov, and Gwendolyn Fryer at Art Center Sarasota.