June 17, 2012

ART REVIEW: A big Portland show in a small space wears its tensions well


(Continued from page 1)

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"Waiting" by Alina Gallo.

Courtesy photo

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"Out of Syria" by Alina Gallo.

Courtesy photo

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: Art House, 61 Pleasant St., Portland

WHEN: Through June 30

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday

INFO: 221-3443; arthousepictureframes.com

"Last Supper" is an image from the published account of New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks. The traditional style and classical subject might be invisible if not for the context of the show.

Gallo employs an illustration tool by later showing Hicks bringing his colleague's body (Anthony Shadid) to Turkey in "Out of Syria."

"The Destruction of Homs" depicts journalist Marie Colvin and several children in a shell-pocked but otherwise idyllic urban setting before they were killed.

Gallo's adopting the point of view of Western journalists is particularly interesting. Maybe they were the simplest sources, but matching their tales to a classical technique used for historical and religious texts makes some significant ripples in the pool we usually use as a mirror.

Are these historical events, or examples of the eternal narcissism of those telling the stories thinking that they are the story? Whereas we used to hear from historians, scholars, priests and kings, we now hear from journalists.

One of the images shows Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi immolating himself in an act widely seen as kick-starting the Arab Spring uprisings. Heavy on well-handled traditional conventions of Muslim manuscripts, it seems to show a major historical moment.

"Rising" raises far more questions than it answers, but the perspectives it presents are richly rewarding. Witnessing Gallo's mastery of her technique and the pictorial conventions over time is impressive as well as enlightening.

Finally, as worldly as the scope of the work is, Gallo never loses sight of our perspective. This is why it is art rather than cultural critique or simple illustration. And it is why "Rising" is worth seeing.


Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:



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Additional Photos

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"Observatory" by Alina Gallo.

Courtesy photo

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"Destruction of Homs" by Alina Gallo.

Courtesy photo


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