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Three solo exhibits just opened at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA that could hardly appear more different in materials and methods, but they are all passionate quests for personal discovery. Holly Roberts, Michael Kirchoff and Michal Greenboim each are propelled intuitively, courting serendipity as they create deeply personal and highly spiritual photographs. The exhibits will be on view through March 4th, 2018.
Holly Roberts’ thirty-three year retrospective is a mesmerizing journey through a prolific career marked by her restless experimentation with photography and painting. Early works from 1984-2003 depict psychological dramas that spring from the struggle to balance her creative and family life in an isolated environment. Rather symbolically, her technique of oil painting over photographs can be interpreted as veiling or possibly even stifling her subjects. Roberts sows the seeds of her dilemmas in contrasts between color and line, figure and symbol, paint and photography.
In more recent work, Roberts has transitioned from individual to larger societal issues, her canvasses becoming populated with ever more symbolic and spiritual references, like deer, snakes and dogs. Combining a primitive, folkloric style with deep psychological queries, Roberts pits daily struggles against historic ones – often with Biblical references – in her playful, enchanting frames. In earthy tones, she composites human and animal bodies into quirky formations and often merges elements of flora and fauna. Roberts’ visual juxtapositions, taken with her layers of paint, newsprint, and photographs, probe the paradox of physicality and spirituality, raising insistent existential questions about life on earth.
Michael Kirchoff’s B&W photographs of natural landscapes in the ongoing series Sanctuary possess a mythical mood. With his emblematic skewed, wide-angle perspectives, off-kilter vantage points and contrasty printing, Kirchoff seizes on the spectacle of sweeping vistas and dramatic skies to create dynamic images of ordinarily tranquil scenes. It is an allegorical interpretation of the natural world to which Kirchoff introduces further caprice by shooting with unconventional analog cameras and expired films. The artifacts from his film’s damaged emulsions add a stirring emotional layer to his work, enriching the texture and composition of each frame. Kirchoff’s photographs are at once natural and dreamlike, vertiginous and still, passionate and mysterious – an escape into the beauty and peril of the natural world.
In the series Orchard Trails, Michal Greenboim recalls the visceral memories of her childhood in vivid photographic diptychs. Greenboim began making individual images as a daily visual journal, realizing later that she had responded to lucid memories of awe that she experienced growing up in a small Israeli town filled with orange, avocado and mango orchards. Greenboim’s images are sensual and vibrant, often shot using a macro lens with extremely selective focus, reminiscent of a child’s absorbed curiosity. In creating diptychs from these photographs, Greenboim summons lyrical interactions of color, composition and meaning that are greater than the sum of their parts. Colors pop, patterns dance and Greenboim’s fusions flow with a store of collective memories, imagined and real.
For more information about these exhibits, go to: http://griffinmuseum.org/exhibitions/
Feature Image: “Deer with Spots, 2011” (Detail) by Holly Roberts (courtesy of the artist and Griffin Museum of Photography).