For this week’s review, Riad went to Sean Kelly Gallery, where photography icon, Robert Mapplethorpe’s “Saints and Sinners” is exhibited alongside the photography and video works of Slater Bradley.
This was a suiting match, as both exhibits are deeply personal to the creator and appeal to their audience to question not only their virtue, but the nature of virtue itself. Bradley’s art about his idealized woman straddles the line between love and obsession, and Mapplethorpe questions the idea of lines and where and why they are drawn.
Mapplethorpe’s title “Saints and Sinners” alludes to the concept of good vs. evil but his photography delves deeper, comparing the sensual and the explicit, the innocent and the risqué. Mapplethorpe is alluding to something much more complex, provoking us to question who decides where the line is drawn between good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate. This is a suiting question for an artist who’s lifestyle and art are constantly under the scrutinous eye of the morality police.
A prime example is the juxtaposition between the leather clad dominatrix and the leather stiletto. The first considered obscene in many circles, and the second at a lower dose, suggests sexiness in all the right measurements. Mapplethorpe breaches similar narratives that are beyond sex, such as patriotism and war.
Regardless of the questions of morality it evokes, a Mapplethorpe image need not rely upon racy, controversial themes to attract. Critics and lovers alike, can’t deny the beauty found in his photographic eye through composition, texture, and tone.
Slater Bradley, also exhibited at Sean Kelly Gallery, like Mapplethorpe, employs texture, tone, and color to allude to juxtaposition. While Bradley also speaks to a universal narrative, the voyeuristic nature of his single subject , Alina, seems deeply personal in a way that makes the viewer slightly uncomfortable.
Bradley’s work is installed on two floors of the gallery, one floor with photography and on the other a two-channel video.
The photographic elements resonate intimate moments that seems to echo a fleeting, but beloved romance. Nonetheless the textural elements seem to fixate on something much darker and more distant; the inner turmoil brought on by the bittersweet nature of nostalgia.
The two channel video repeats the same theme as his photography, but mirrors sequences from both Chris Marker’s La Jetée and Alferd Hitchcock’s Vertigo with Slater Bradley’s tribute to Chris Marker, she was my la jetée.
We suggest you check out the show and draw your own comparisons.
The show will be up through January 25th at the Sean Kelly Gallery at 475 Tenth Avenue in New York, and you can visit the gallery’s website at www.skny.com.