A moment on the walls

Red-Rain

Red Rain, detail, Darryl Moody

The title of this show of objets trouvés could be the standard subtitle for any exhibit in a gallery setting, but it’s especially pertinent here, where the artist has captured photographic images from walls in cities around the world. Generally these walls are covered with an interesting and disintegrating surface of paper, paint, rust, dirt, and other layers of artificial skin, so to speak. While doing a critical assessment of work by artists in a residency at Cooper Union, Peter Schjeldahl once told Darryl Moody that his photographic prints reminded the critic of Aaron Siskin‘s work. This was after a long sequence of brutal dismissals aimed at other participating artists. Darryl asked The New Yorker critic if he could repeat that remark, and he got a nod. Few and far between are the artists who can carry around a blessing of any sort  from Peter Schjeldahl. I had a brief chance to get a look at the photography on my hectic visit to the city on Thursday, and seeing it in person is the only way to absorb the subtle color of the prints. Not to dismiss the other strengths of his work, but his handling of color gives many of these images an especially poignant quality, a sense that weather and time are investing a rough beauty into something torn and punished that pushes back against what are otherwise lonely glimpses of loss and entropy. I’ve been looking at a smaller reproduction of the peeling image of Castro for the past two years at the gallery, but in the larger exhibited print, the steak of color he captured that runs through a rupture in Castro’s face is remarkably complex and almost melodic. Moody wanders around the world looking for images on walls to shoot, and half the success is simply finding a haunting image by spotting and cropping a particular area of what he sees. What you see is pretty much what he got when he clicked the shutter: I didn’t have the impression that there’s a lot of post-production going on as the image travels from camera to print, through a computer, but I may be wrong about that. There’s a reception tonight at the gallery: 458 W. 28th St. 6th floor. It’s Moody’s first solo with VA. Should be fun.

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