The artist photographs friends and colleagues with the device, which produces auras via “magnetic feedback” from the subjects’ hands on sensors. The pulses of color can neatly frame a head-and-torso shot, as in the photographer’s purple-swathed study of filmmaker Miranda July, or nearly obliterate it. Some of Van de Roer’s models are nude, some are clothed, and some could be either; their forms are reduced to vividly hued blobs.
Any mystical significance aside, the pictures follow the familiar aesthetic strategy of leaving some artistic decisions to chance. Van de Roer can photograph the same person as often as he likes — or as long as the subject’s patience abides — but can never get the same picture twice.
Yet digital technology gives the artist exceptional control over the next step. The AuraCam produces standard 4-by-5-inch Polaroid prints. Van de Roer enlarges these up to 10 times, and the results are crisp and bright. The sumptuous color fields that result may not be magical, but they are marvelous.
Carlo Van de Roer:
The Portrait Machine Project
On view through Aug. 10 at Randall Scott Projects, 1326 H St. NE, 2nd Fl.; 202-417-4872; www.randallscottprojects.com
Strictly Painting 9
Fifty years ago, near the peak of abstract expressionism and its offshoots, a group show titled “Strictly Painting” would have featured artists who battled with pigment or attempted to vanish into the picture plane entirely. These days, it’s hard to be strict in defining the medium. “Strictly Painting 9,” the latest in a series of biennial exhibitions at McLean Project for the Arts, includes both realism and abstractionism, but mostly work that splits the difference. The selection, curated by Heiner Contemporary owner Margaret Heiner, also allows drawing, collage and sculpture.
Adding the third dimension can be as simple as painting on a New York transit MetroCard, a pillowcase or a pair of jeans. Paying tribute both to earlier painters and architectural forms, Marie Ringwald’s “Thinking About Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell” overlaps small pieces of painted wood to evoke mid-20th-century abstraction. Eric Garner constructs free-standing starbursts of painted wood, mostly black yet with some bright hues that evoke 1960s color-field painting as surely as David Goslin’s striped entry, “#144.” J.T. Kirkland also uses bands of color, but to frame two pieces of irregular, otherwise unpainted plywood.