UMOCA's Recent Exhibitions Tackle History, Violence, Homelessness

By Hill, Scotti | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), March 5, 2017 | Go to article overview

UMOCA's Recent Exhibitions Tackle History, Violence, Homelessness


Hill, Scotti, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


By Scotti Hill

For the Deseret News

In an era filled with social and political strife, art is a viable escape from the madness of living. Sometimes, however, contemporary artists choose a path of provocation all their own, reveling in the challenges and intricacies of 21st-century existence.

The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Salt Lake City is not one to shy away from controversy. Its exhibitions often push the envelope by giving artists from around the world a unique platform for artistic representation. On Feb. 3, the museum unveiled five exhibitions, which independently and collectively challenge viewers to consider their preconceived notions of art and, by extension, its overall purpose and effect on modern viewers.

The museum's sprawling main gallery is visible through large glass windows from the top floor. Descending a series of stairs, visitors are greeted by an expansive space laden with visual curiosities, perhaps none more curious and enticing than Rona Pondick and Robert Feintuch's dual exhibition "Head, Hands, Feet; Sleeping, Holding, Dreaming, Dying," on display through July 15.

The exhibition combines Pondick's otherworldly sculptures with her husband Feintuch's whimsical paintings. The exhibition premieres at UMOCA before heading to the Bates Museum of Art in Maine, according to utahmoca.org.

The pair have been together since the mid-'70s and "share an interest in making work that uses the body to pursue psychologically suggestive meanings," according to UMOCA's news release.

Feintuch's paintings showcase human figures in untraditional poses, with their backs turned away from the viewer or with cropped views of human feet. As a painter, Feintuch was inspired during a trip to Italy, where he studied early Renaissance frescoes. His work, like the era from which he gleans encouragement, invites viewers to contemplate their relationship to the figure depicted in the painting. Feintuch's paintings relish in the sensation of movement, inciting a visual curiosity regarding the artist's use of perspective.

Pondick's sculptures are also inspired by perspective and bodily proportion. Spaced dramatically throughout the exhibition, her slickly polished animal-human hybrids are haunting.

Pondick uses herself as a model, casting her head, hands and limbs in a variety of contortions. Perhaps most visually fascinating, and indeed most disturbing, is the extent to which the human dimensions of these sculptures are exaggerated or diminished.

Pondick's "Cat" (stainless steel, 4 1/2 x 33 x 14 1/8 inches, 2002-2005), a figure comprised of an over-exaggerated hand, exists alongside a tiny head and body, evoking uncomfortable connotations of deformity and defect, as well as toying with classical notions of sculptures with perfect human anatomical proportions. …

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