Above, Nurit Avesar’s “Pre-Existing Condition,” an elegiac look inside the body and into the spirit.
Beautiful Parts, closing tomorrow at the CSUN gallery in Northridge, is an incisive sum of those parts, featuring works from Marlena Guzman, Catherine Bennation, Jessika Edgar, Zeina Baltagi, David Estrada, Kristine Schomaker, Rain Lucien Matheke, Nurit Avesar, Alexsandra Papoban, Kimberly Morris, Michelle Nunes, John Zarcone, Monica Sandoval, Mona Karsa, and Kellan Barneby King. Juried by artist Kim Abeles, and organized by the curatorial collective, Rough Play, the exhibition is also the first annual exhibition hosted by the CSUN Alumni Association Art Chapter and CSUN Art Galleries.
Above, David Estrada crosses two time periods – what these Renaissance men conceive of as beautiful appears different than ours.
The exhibition takes a look at the malleable concept of beauty that changes with time, trends, and cultures; the artists were asked to consider society’s messages about what beauty is today, and how they personally absorb those messages. It’s a provocative question and a prescient one today. With social media creating a global forum in which to connect and to criticize – body shaming trolls, anyone? – what does beauty have to do with it?
The exhibition features works that deal with body image, and with an artist’s portrayal of the body. Abeles has chosen works that in an exhilarating way often present the body – and beauty – as distinct elements.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then there is much here that is beautiful, some of it abstract or distorted, some mysterious, as if an artist as alchemist had created an installation.
Viewers can take in the detailed watercolor by Zeina Baltagi, “Becoming,” which presents the artist’s underwear as if it were a delicate mosaic. A beautiful garment used for a prosaic purpose is presented on a visual pedestal as it were, the fine covering of a part of the body that may or may not be considered a beautiful one.
A more alien image is presented in Alexandra Papoban’s work, above, a serenely intimate image of a human torso.
Kristine Schomaker’s “An Uncomfortable Skin” is one piece that evokes a mysterious lab, the aforementioned alchemist’s work, or a candy-maker’s workplace. The analogy isn’t entirely out of place. Always a bravely revealing artist, Schomaker allows viewers a look at her own personal navigation of an eating disorder, as well as a magical accumulation of reconfigured past works, fragments of wigs, plastic spoons. The large scale piece seems to posit the idea that we are who we are, whether we are in bits and pieces, whether we are “whole,” whether we feel as beautiful as we “should” look.
John Zarcone’s “Information Theory” presents realistic, intense images of a young man and woman, created on loose canvas. Below them are the words “El Significado es irrelevante,” translated as “the meaning is irrelevant.” The image is emblematic of the exhibition: here we are, love us or leave us.
Beauty, like life itself, is fluid. We are here, time passes, and we are gone in a heartbeat. The beauty of a smile, a face, a gesture, a touch – what we see and what we remember are highly subjective.
Take a look at the all-too-fleeting exhibition that reminds us of just that, before it closes.
CSUN Art Gallery is located at 18111 Nordhoff Street in Northridge.
- Genie Davis; Photos courtesy of the gallery