THE ROVING EYE: Aura and the Contemporary Portrait exhibition, opened on January 13, 2013 at the Oakland University Art Gallery as a survey of international portraiture including eighteen artists from the United States, Europe, and Australia. The unconventional design of the exhibition says as much about the eclectic vision of the curator, Dick Goody, whose roving eye amuses us with his juxtaposition of media, content and likeness, as it does about the artists’ imagery.
Andrew Bush’s large Chromogenic image, Woman gliding southeast, at 64 miles per hour on US Route 101, illustrates the basic principles of space, light, and time while delivering on the power of scale. In addition, it weighs heavily on design elements that hold the viewer’s attention. Experimenting with people in moving cars seems fitting for a LA artist, where making stills of YouTube frames fits nicely into the culture.
a dozen useless actions for grieving blondes #2, one of two large C-Type photographs in a sequence created by Rosemary Laing, explains what I mean when describing the exhibit as unconventional. The photos, rather laden with expression of sorrow or emotional panic, contradict the typically reserved meaning of portraiture as a likeness that reveres the subject. One cannot miss the importance of scale, and the color relationship between the flesh tones and the figure’s background.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s large oil paintings come closer to what most audiences expect when attending a portraiture exhibition. Her large figure depends heavily on the stripped shirt to attract our attention. Here she seems more interested in paint than people; more interested in light than figure. That is why this “portrait” fits so well into the exhibit.
The THE ROVING EYE: Aura and the Contemporary Portrait runs through March 31, 2013.
The Oakland University Art Gallery
208 Wilson Hall
Rochester, MI 48309
Ron Scott is a pseudonym for a writer based in the Detroit area. View more articles by Ron Scott.