Ari Marcopoulos: Rena Bransten Gallery

By Helfand, Glen | Artforum International, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Ari Marcopoulos: Rena Bransten Gallery


Helfand, Glen, Artforum International


The nine color photographs that constituted Ari Marcopoulos's concise recent exhibition focus on moments drawn from ordinary life, yet a sense of foreboding pervades all of them. Jennifer, Sonoma, 2005, depicts the photographer's wife (a frequent subject) peering enigmatically from the shade of an outdoor patio. She holds a lotus-shaped bowl as if in the midst of a snack (a bag of barbecue coals is also just visible in the background), and one of her bare legs is marked by a bloody scrape from some small mishap (the Marcopoulos's lifestyle appears to be of the gritty, outdoorsy, "alternative" variety). At Rena Bransten Gallery, the picture was hung on the opposite wall from Bike Crash II, 2002, a study of a child's knobby knees, one of which bears a burgundy gash and the ghostly trace of a Band-Aid.

Is there a dark streak running through the artist's family? The fact that he pictures his sons costumed as ancient deities might lead us to assume so. The backyard folly of Anubis, Sonoma, 2002, finds one boy wearing a large red cardboard mask of the dog-headed Egyptian lord of the dead, while the other eats a snack in the background. The vibrancy of the cardboard pushes it dramatically to the foreground; it appears almost to exist in another dimension, introducing an impression of unreality that shifts the image's balance of innocence, glee, and menace in an uncertain direction. The discomfort engendered by Sho Ka Wa, Sonoma, CA, 2004, is more direct and corporeal. The portrait, set in a leafy forest, depicts a shirtless boy wearing black feathered wings that are almost the same shade as his thick hair. …

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