Staged at Manifest Gallery

Marlene Steele

A small thematic exhibition entitled Staged was a call for artwork made under direction, with meticulous planning “and a significant degree of control” with no dictates on the final mediums. Interesting responses in several inventive mediums including (but not all) sculptural collage, ink jet printing and painting are represented. Under the significant condition of control, the posing and selection of elements may or may not speak to a truth or reflect a cherish artist bias, even though the various dictated selection processes telling them are artificial and arranged.

“The Returner” Archival Ink Jet Print by Tuan Bui

“The Returner” by Tuan Bui projects a family narrative in which the circumstances and setting   are not a probable context for the action which is also strangely improbable. The large ink jet print depicts perhaps a modern family in a pieta scenario. 

In the setting of a typical family bath, ephemera clutters every surface, and of the two same-sized casement windows, one has no handle. Contrasting patterns of wall paper and large floor tiling as bathwall wainscoting conclude with the smaller turquoise tiled wall of the bath where the action transpires. A curious action unfolds: the full bearded dark haired young man, hirsute and nearly nude, lies prone on the tiled floor of a family bath and stares upward with eyes fixed.The older man with light thinning hair, obviously of a previous generation, gently supports the prone upper body in its inanimate state. A scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on the prone man’s stomach as the mother figure persists with a spoonful of ice-cream near his half open mouth. 

The focus on this action centers on the intensive attention of the two adult heads, both be- speckled, on the fixed open eye expression (or lack thereof) solidly framed with centerparted hair and facial growth. The chroma saturation of the ink jet print and high definition detail lend a bizarre surrealism to the imagery.

“A Dark Year” Painting by Robert Schefman

Competing on the opposite wall is a large painting of a darkly depicted dramatic tragedy.

A woman in mourning white is posed on bended knee at the side of a crimson-draped horizontal surface on which a similar young woman is laid out as if deceased. Her black shift is belted with a man’s woven leather belt. Both faces obscured, one by gesture and one turned to the dark recesses.The relationship of the individuals is not apparent, there are no rings or symbolic tattoos.The viewer is denied any concrete clues as to the tragic demise or the setting itself which is obscured by a mysterious dark gloom which envelops the spotlight on the two figures. Only by way of the title, could one assume the scenario expresses current social trauma related to Covid loss.

“Angel of God.” by Gary Sczerbaniewicz

Catastrophic loss is alluded to in the fragmented remains of a simple domicile. This wall hanging depicts the remains of a 3 panel lattice construction with patterned wall paper interior in a dried blood red, each with a single four pane double hung window.The laid wood flooring with inlaid pattern on the perimeter is inset with the decorative detailing of a forced air vent before each window. A long yellow tongue of subsurface pine drops away into your imagined abyss with dangling ductwork corresponding to each of the forced air vents. A crimson lazyboy is about to slip off the remnant of sub-flooring and is flagged by a crumpled banner of olive green, a chilling remembrance of the comfort of even the humblest abode.

On view at Manifest Gallery through September 9, 2022