SARATOGA SPRINGS – The latest exhibit to open at Saratoga Arts beckons one to look closer.
It features photographs of richly textured, otherworldly landscapes that reveal the inner workings of instruments. In a series called “Seldom Scene,” photographer Greg Cuda uses High Dynamic Range digital photography to bring viewers inside a hand-carved cello constructed in the late 1770s. His work also takes viewers into a resonator guitar. The lighting and elaborate steel on the instrument create a preternatural, surreal aesthetic.
As there isn’t extensive wall text to accompany each piece, one can wonder and guess at what instruments they might be seeing (for anyone who is stumped, the answers are in the virtual version of the exhibit; see details below).
Not too far away is the work of Adrian Lee, who pulls viewers closer to the unrest seen over the last few years in cities like Troy and Albany. In one piece, called “Pandemic(s)” Lee convincingly layers together paints, pencil drawings and prints to depict the capitol building in Albany. Just outside of the intimidating building, the street is layered images of infrastructure going up in flames.
In another mixed media piece by Lee called “American Decomposition,” the artist depicts an eroding version of downtown Troy. The windows of one building feature images of the January 6 insurrection and in the sky next to the building, there’s a tear in the clouds, revealing more images of fires.
Lee’s work references major protests and systemic problems, though they come from a personal perspective.
“For me, the very essence of painting is singularly personal,” Lee said in an artist statement. “I believe biographical moments or instances, although anecdotal, establish a strong connection with the viewer the same way in which biographical literature does. I correlate my experiences and memories by transcribing them through mark-making to create a vulnerable sensation that the viewer can connect with.”
Arnela Mahmutović, another artist featured in the exhibit, also reflects on the personal. She is a first-generation Bosniak-American and analyzes the duality of those identities in paintings like “Tomorrow,” which features two women dressed in fuzzy bright green clothing that reaches up to encase their hair. Similarly, in a painting called “Yesterday,” two women are seen dancing, with their hair intertwined, forming a literal connection between them.
Mahmutović explores cultural history as well in “Isthmus,” which juxtaposes a woman dressed in traditional Bosnian garb, riding a horse toward an industrial, futuristic-looking building.
“Drawing inspiration from illuminated manuscripts, contemporary imagery and personal narrative, my work is a continued investigation of the histories that surround me,” Mahmutović wrote in an artist statement. “Juxtaposition and experimentation guide my process as I sample imagery and painting histories that are at the crossroads of cultures. The result is an intimate and shifting relationship between displaced bodies and invented spaces; constructed worlds in which each live as agents of their own narrative.”
The exhibition will be up through Nov. 13 at Saratoga Arts. It’s also available to view online and includes the transportive travel photography of Lauren Breedlove. Her series called “Chasing Light” features scenes from as far afield as Havana, Italy, Indonesia and Turkey, along with a few that are closer to home like the Adirondacks.
For more information on the exhibit visit saratoga-arts.org.