The contemporary art scene is often seen like a random field: Its prices can seem unjustified, its subject matter too esoteric and its final execution sometimes feels like "This piece needs another go." Contemporary art is a forbidden territory, and you need a special key to get in and appreciate the choices artists make. With the title Structure & Perspective, Snap's latest show promises to be "structured" and to show good sense. Well, it does, but not always. There are some frustrations and some great finds.
In this exhibit, Snap showcases 13 local, regional and international artists, who build their work utilizing physical and digital tools. They cut, paste, collage, organize and retouch, using paper, metal, glue and digital mechanics to construct their art. The works convey each artist's unique worldview: chaotic and overflowing with information.
Juan Travieso, a Cuban national living in Miami, paints animals and humans, their bodies distorted by outgrowths that look like cataracts. He replaces the faces of his animals with kaleidoscopic patterns. According to his artist's statement, these patterns stand for the limitations he experienced growing up in Cuba. This may be true, but for me, his work feels more like the pure product of a trendy Miami gallery scene that tries too hard to catch the public's attention. Travieso was in Orlando last year, at Orlando Museum of Art as a Florida Prize finalist. He made his point with a series of paintings, Endangered Birds, that explore our separation from nature as a result of the new technologies that constantly seduce us.
Another artist who talks about the destruction of nature is Christoph Morlinghaus, who has been photographing architecture since age 13. He has made a name for himself by producing large-scale architectural photographs that convey the essence of a building through the experience of light and space and the narratives of their inhabitants and their creators. In "Man-Altered Landscapes" (above), the artist uses a long time exposure to render a feeling of "captured time" within a landscape punched by oil drilling machines.
After these disturbing works, I found peace of mind looking at the large black-and-white paintings of Dan L. Hess, who uses charcoal, graphite and gouache to create gestural, expressive work. His titles – "A Brief Conversation with Death"; "Structures (Unseen) Lust, Loss and Longing" – allude to turmoil, violence. I was particularly taken by Hess' courage to work on such a large scale, with such a minimal palette, and achieve a dramatic suspension. At Snap the artist shows abstract forms that resemble heavy folds of fabric. Hess says that in his work, "abstractions and open narratives tell of a departure from self."
Ryan Buyssens, who teaches sculpture at University of Central Florida, presents his mobile sculpture "Resistance": two bird wings that flap according to the viewer's movement. Buyssens employs time-based mechanics that add structural dynamics to the piece, which fits perfectly with the exhibition theme.
Jeff Frost's film, "Circle of Abstract Ritual," is constructed from hundreds of thousands of photographs that combine time-lapse footage of wildfires, riots in Los Angeles, abandoned houses, trompe l'oeil painting and astronomical rendering. Frost states that his multimedia work contemplates the idea that creation and destruction are the same, and that for all of us life itself, and even the laws of the universe, are deeply paradoxical.
In just over a year, Snap Space has come a long way from its beginnings as a gallery devoted strictly to photography. The diverse work in Structure & Perspective – painting, drawing, sculpture, film – demonstrates the gallery's successful expansion of interests, a development that will be revealed to us on a much wider scale in their upcoming monthlong city-wide event, You Are Here. Those dots will be connected in May.