Some people are calculated thinkers,
understanding every move long before they ever make or think or speak. Others
are much more intuitive and unconscious, they are about the moment and evolving
from each one to the next. It should be said that regardless of the challenge
of understanding no one way is more right than the other - just different - and
the opportunity to compare is exciting. Julie Saul deserves a huge amount of praise
for this reason; she has brought to her gallery two photographers that make
photographs in these very opposite ways. However, they meet in such an
interesting place. What Corey Olsen has in youth, curiosity, and novelty Zeke
Berman has in wisdom, craft, and contemporaneous composition. Both are
craftsmen of still life photography, painterly and heteroclite.
Personally my favorite thing about
Berman and Olsen and their images is the first thing they bring to mind,
unequivocally that thing is their history. William M. Harnett leads to Kurt
Schwitters leads to Jasper Johns leads to these two contemporaries, Berman and
Olsen. They are sculptors, collagists, and photographers. Aficionados of light,
color, asymmetry, staged theatrics, surface, and the ordinary taken way out of
context. It's a really great show! The works are solid at times and then
open-ended at others. There is space to be filled beyond the elucidation and
perplexity in the predicament of the photos juxtapositions. Admittedly they
take a lot of time, the reward is so huge it seems insurmountable.
Garage Still Life © Corey Olsen
Corey Olsen will take you back to a familiar time in your life - long
before complication - when imagination was so important. Back when you'd
aimlessly shift through relics and the family tool chest or garage. Who wasn't
doing that as a kid? You'd find all those strange odds and ends, tools not
quite toys that blasted creativity off into endlessly unknown possibilities.
Some of the colors were bright, others faded, smells of rust and dirt, a
forgotten bicycle helmet, and all those cans of chemicals that served a purpose
that one time. Olsen assembles his birc-a-brac almost too precisely; his
lighting and perspective is nothing short of nouveau. Behind the immediacy,
carefully controlled intent, and playfulness of the work Olsen expels a certain
sense of quiet isolation. Being a kid in the stillness of Maine has clearly built
a huge sense of explorative expectation in the young photographer. Olsen
shares, "Maybe all the pieces make no sense. But my biggest hope is that people
will discover things about their expectations of everyday artifacts."
Drawing Board Diptych © Zeke Berman
Zeke Berman is an illusionist. His
photos are those of universally conveyed thoughts dealing with perception and
questioning the very core of optics. Where does something end and beginning? Is
there a front, what happens on the back? These are all challenging questions
for a photographer - who deals in a two-dimensional finished product - to take
on. "I'm trying things out and want to understand in the moment." Berman says.
The verbal understanding that he has of his photos is not to be believed. The
compositions are ambiguous, beguiling, surreal, and articulated. His still
lives are accurately laid out forms, technical and exquisite in their quality
of collage and sculpture. These photographs are seductive! Viewing them at
first glance there seems to be something mirrored or symmetrical in their
structure. Upon closer inspection the mystery of their seduction is revealed.
There's nothing mirrored about them, just when parts seem to be perfect
reflections something goes wrong, there's a shift, a change. The images have
been designed only half symmetrical. In so many ways Berman's images become Joseph
Jastrow's iconic duck rabbit.
Berman and Olsen are students of
epistemology. Their photography allows for new study, understanding, and
knowledge. These photographers are distant in years but a kin in spirit. Their
aesthetics sing to one another, they are totally without time, and demanding of
comprehension. The success of the work is reliant on the time viewers take.
Be sure to catch these two great shows at Julie Saul Gallery Through February 20th.
Garage Still Life © Corey Olsen
Letter Rack © Zeke Berman
Garage Still Life #4 © Corey Olsen
Web #2 © Corey Olsen
Garage Still Life #21 © Corey Olsen
Cubes © Zeke Berman