Boston Sunday Herald, January 19, 1997

Photos stripped of color evoke pain, poignancy


“The Portrait as Object / The Figure as Ground” offers a view of humanity that is as bleak as it is poignant.
With only a few exceptions, the figures presented by the show’s eight photographers are stripped of colors, clothes, props and the company of others. When settings or other people do appear � as in Denise Marika’s triptych of a woman carrying a man, which recalls the Pieta, they merely reinforce the loneliness of the sole figures presented� and, by extension, our own separation from others around us.
In some cases, the figure that is presented in the work is not so much a representation of a person as it is a representation of such a representation.
In “Self � Portrait Facing Right,” artist John O’Reilly brilliantly inserts a photograph of himself within his photographic collage depicting building blocks, like some sort of photographic translation of the painter Paul Cezanne’s analysis of forms as elemental shapes.
In each of Jacqueline Hayden’s two-piece “Ancient Statuary Series,” the artist seamlessly melds a male nude with an ancient statue to form a provocative reversal of the adage about art imitating life.
With her use of wide brush strokes of developing medium in “Figure Model Series,” the overly life-size, life-like and detailed portrait of an older woman, Hayden reminds us that no matter how realistic it may seem, photography is still more an artifice, an illusion of reality.