February 18, 2016 The Digital Pop Life of Venus de Milo
Totems for a Flattened Now, an exhibition of photographs by Bay area-based artist Nando Alvarez-Perez, was chosen by Photo District News, a publication for photo professionals as a feature exhibition in their “Photo of the Day” section.
Instagram “is probably my biggest influence, or at least what’s going into my eyes the most on a daily basis,” Nando Alvarez-Perez recently told an interviewer. The effected is visible in his exuberant strain of still life, which uses an everything-all-at-once esthetic to mash together cultural references from art history, pop culture and digital technology. His series “Totems for a Flattened Now,” on view until March 5 at CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, features bits of classical sculpture pictured in the studio or found in incongruous spots, and makes a comparison between the enduring nature of these iconic stones and the digital world’s brief half-life. The photos, Alvarez-Perez writes in a statement, “explore the ways by which images, myths and symbols are recycled, transformed, and re-represented according to our culture’s ever changing needs and desires.” In one photo, Venus on the Half Shell poses in front of a pet store goldfish tank, as if emerging from its waters; in another, a photo of Venus de Milo is set among fake fruit, computer parts, a Batman trading card featuring Kim Basinger, and an old school digital Kodak camera. The images are displayed in the gallery as a kind of sculpture, mounted in grid-like metal frames that stand on floor or float in front of the wall, modular and therefore “constantly hovering between photography and sculpture, image and object,” Alvarez-Perez writes.
Alvarez-Perez, a Buffalo native turned Californian, describes his process: “When it comes to the way my photographs look, especially when I’m shooting in my studio, I like images with a kind of formal maximalism, an ecstatic overindulgence like stabbing heroin into your eyeballs or, dare I say it, a Kanye West song.” His still lifes, packed with tinfoil, citrus fruit, darkroom equipment, computer parts, stone and bright textiles, evoke a strange mix of overload and nostalgia, a distinctly contemporary feeling. In his series, “the past is ever present and the ghost of the future lurks within,” he writes.