21 Dec 2017

Lynn Stern

Taka Ishii Gallery

Reviewed by William Corwin

Lynn Stern redefines the trope of the Vanitas, as abstraction, and ironically, via photography. Her gently graded gray tones investigate the skull from alternate angles and vantage points, describing the familiar symbol of mortality in ways that distract from the traditional morbidity, focusing on the numinous sublime.

Stern employs double exposure and skeins of transparent fabric to expand the viewer's focus, insisting on comparisons between the texture of cloth and the uneven surface of a molar or a nasal process, plaintively tempting you not to think on death. The most morbidly effective is Doppelgänger, whose empty eyes and sad grimace stare bluntly outwards. But a shield of a semi-transparent, polka-dotted filigree over the face presents a magnificently balanced composition that rejects the typical literalness of photography. It recalls the surrealism of Redon or Ensor, which is quite a tangent to provoke considering that this is really about death.

Exhibition Lynn Stern link
Start date 30 Nov 2017
End date 22 Dec 2017
Presenter Taka Ishii Gallery link
Venue 23 East 67th Street, 3rd Floor, New York City, NY, USA map
Image Lynn Stern, Skull #45, 1991 / 1991-1998, gelatin silver print, image size: 16 5/8 x 22 7/8 inches, paper size: 20 x 24 inches, © Lynn Stern, courtesy of Taka Iishi Gallery
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