By Mary Tinti
The still life color photographs of Tara Sellios are at once eerily beautiful and stunningly grotesque. Conjuring the subject and tenor of 17th century Dutch vanitas paintings, the baroque lighting and contrast of Caravaggio, and the rawness and realism of Manet, Sellios creates highly original photographic compositions that seem simultaneously anachronistic and yet totally ahead of their time.
Of the Flesh, on view at Gallery Kayafas through June 30th, is chock-a-block with succulent sea creatures, butchered cuts of meat, flayed carcasses, and overflowing goblets of wine - all arranged in arresting, ordered, unnatural, and sometimes disturbing configurations.
In her artist statement, Sellios writes: “I strive to create images that elegantly articulate the totality of existence, focusing heavily on the broad themes of life and death, with further emphasis placed on the ideas of fragility, impermanence, and carnality.”
Indeed, the fruits of Sellios’ labor are dark, graphic, and alluring and I sheepishly struggled to put into words exactly why I liked them. At first glance, I wasn’t sure whether to feel put off or intrigued by the almost sinful tableaux fed by eels, mollusks, beasts, and fowl. But upon closer examination, I found myself transfixed by the ways that attraction and repulsion, vitality and mortality, sustenance and gluttony are displayed so harmoniously in Sellios’ photos. Hers are not images from which to avert your eyes, but rather hyper real photographs through which also to ponder notions of excess, sensuality, vice, and virtue.
Equally fascinating is the creative process behind these works. Sellios sketches out her lavish visions before scouring fish markets and butcher shops in search of her subjects. She transforms her spoils into sculptural arrangements that she ultimately presents as photos.
Playing the role of draftswoman, sculptor, conceptual artist, and photographer, Sellios is clearly a multifaceted young talent whose works empower her viewers to see the unquiet vulnerability in the living beings around us, and perhaps – by extension – in ourselves.
Tara Sellios - Of the Flesh
May 18th – June 30th, 2012
450 Harrison Avenue #37
Boston, MA 02118
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00am-5:30pm
Open in August by appointment only
Tara Sellios, Retribution, Untitled #1, 2011, digital C-print, © Tara Sellios
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About the AuthorMary Tinti
Mary is a Koch Curatorial Fellow at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. On her blog, Dress For Sports, she says, "I love innovative public art, creative design, and unique intersections of architecture, sculpture, and installation. And I love stumbling upon cool collisions of art and everyday life." Mary has a Ph.D. in art history from Rutgers University.