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By Elin Spring
The delicious intrigue of abstract art is that it carries multiple messages. Absent the customary cues of “what, when and where”, we are forced first to appreciate the pure visual impact of a piece and then puzzle out its context and derive meaning. The process becomes even more appealing when art from different eras and media are cleverly brought together, as Gallery Kayafas has done with the iconic strobe photography of late MIT scientist Harold “Doc” Edgerton, print and photographic knife’s edge “portraits” by Judy Haberl, and minimalist graphite geometries crafted by August Ventimiglia. At once stark, elegant and festive, the work of these diverse artists create a recipe for enchantment, on view through January 12th, 2019.
Judy Haberl has combined an obvious love of cooking with appetizing ingenuity in “The Chef’s Hand” and “Traces.” Starting with a cutting board etched with the markings of a chef’s knives, Haberl used the Intaglio drypoint printing method and photography to record positive and negative images of their involuntary patterns. The gathering of her own “Traces” and those of over twenty master chefs – like Boston’s Joanne Chang and Jody Adams – dance within their frames as striking expressions of devotion, skill, and personal style. What also catches my eye is the way Haberl’s prints echo some of the same forms revealed in Harold Edgerton’s strobe light photographs across the gallery.
Harold “Doc” Edgerton (1903-1990) spent a scientific career deconstructing the physics of motion, and in the process, created a treasure trove of photographs that are as graceful as they are astonishing. On view in the gallery are a collection of true “Rarities”, including sixteen vintage photographs and some fascinating original pages from Edgerton’s scientific notebooks, all of which will be included in the forthcoming book “Harold Edgerton: Seeing the Unseen” co-edited by Gus Kayafas, Deborah Douglas and Ron Kurtz, to be published by Steidl on January 22nd, 2019.
Edgerton’s elegant strobe light photographs of professional athletes – along with a range of other fluid motions – transform what is invisible to the human eye into glorious revelations that stop time, seemingly elongating it. Decades later, Gallery Kayafas has brought Edgerton’s photographs into conversation with Haberl’s work, which does the reverse. Haberl collapses time in combining the cutting, slicing and chopping motions of professional chefs, aggregating their knife marks over a number of weeks. Helped by the shared attribute of (mostly) black and white prints, Haberl’s accumulations exhibit surprising likenesses to Edgerton’s drawn out delineations, creating delightful associations across era, genre and technique.
The connections extend further, with the intricate graphite drawings of August Ventimiglia in the front room. His unusual technique seems to combine the intentionality seen in Edgerton’s photographs with the serendipity expressed in Haberl’s knife-cut assemblages. All three artists’ black and white geometries resonate throughout Gallery Kayafas in a celebration of abstraction.
For more information about this exhibit, go to: http://www.gallerykayafas.com/