It seems these days, I never make it to the Upper East Side as much as I used to. Nonetheless, I’m always willing to travel to see art, especially if it’s good. So this past Friday night, I traveled way Uptown to 91st and Madison with my friend Kate (a featured model in the show) to the quaint Cheryl McGinnis Gallery to check out the new exhibit of photographic works by Tony Gonzalez--a photographer, who seems as much of a nice guy as he is a thoughtful, brilliant artist.
The exhibit, entitled “The Bedroom,” features nude works that take inspiration from his previous series from 2004-2005 called “The Bathers.” Some of the pieces actually evoke memories from "The Bathers." Far from gratuitous, Gonzalez's "The Bedroom" series juxtaposes traditional nude imagery with the contemporary world as is seen in “Kate/Mirror.” Here we see a young woman with a timeless face and figure applying mascara counterbalanced by her bold Celtic love knot tattoo. Like “The Bathers,” “The Bedroon” is full of interdependent voyeurism, taken to a higher level of intimacy, in which the subjects know they are being photographed and are part of the collaboration with the photographer. Collaborative or not, the photographs, which portray women in the style of historical genre paintings going about their personal business in their homes, burst with their subject’s quiet indifference to the fact that there is a photographer present. The works almost say “Look how much we’ve changed, and yet, we’ve stayed the same!” The spectator sees this in pieces like “Mimi/Closet” and “Rachel/Towel” where traditional daily moments are paired with the contemporary as evidenced by Mimi’s 21st Century wardrobe or Rachel’s laptop. It’s as if the subjects have one foot in two distinct time periods.
Continuing the metaphor, Gonzalez’s photographic process also brings two different periods together. One of ten artists in the world using the vintage technique of Gum Bichromate (a nineteenth century printing process which combines Gum Arabic, Ammonium Dichromate and water color pigments), Gonzalez combines this with modern-day digital technology to create full color images that “are rich with meaning.” At the opening night reception, Gonzalez hinted that this will likely be the last show in this genre photographed with film as it is no longer manufactured, so see them while you can.
“The Bedroom” is on exhibition at the Cheryl McGinnis Gallery located at 1287 Madison Avenue (between 91st and 92nd Streets) in Manhattan through October 11.