Gallery Intrigues Through Obscurity

Qianqian Li
Curated by Adam Dunlavy, “Close to the Chest” is a collaborative exhibition featuring the works of Steinhardt seniors Paula Rondon and Natalie Tung.

“Close to the Chest” is the resulting collaboration between graduate students from the Institute of Fine Arts and undergraduates from Steinhardt’s Department of Art and Art Professions as part of the NYU Curatorial Collaborative. The gallery is the first show in the five-part 2016 Senior Honors Studio exhibition series.

The exhibit, curated by Adam Dunlavy, features works by Steinhardt seniors Paula Rondon and Natalie Tung. Rondon’s sculptures and Tung’s photographs are distinct yet they unite under the theme of mystery. The works foster an intriguing sense of both familiarity and doubt in the viewer.

The floor space of the gallery is dominated by Rondon’s series, “Director’s Cuts,” comprised of three sculptural assemblages which laconically recreate pinnacle moments from Hollywood movies such as “The Graduate”, “Titanic” and “Dirty Dancing”. On a piece-by-piece basis, the sculpture only suggests the subject in rough outline, but in larger scale, the scenes are obvious. The abstract nature of the sculptures challenges viewers to guess the iconic moment of the film.

Tung’s photographs share the same assembled quality as the sculptures, yet their tones are more somber. The photographs document light phenomena that create “magical moments” and “phantom imprints” in rooms. Tung prints black and white photographs of rooms on transparent paper, a technique which allows her to layer photos on top of each other, representing the room’s many inhabitants over time. It’s an intricate process — Tung captured and trimmed photographs to the precise moment, then assembled and layered the images.

The modest exhibition space is harmoniously arranged as the two sets of works balance each other. Although the two artists vary in style, the sculptures and photographs are linked by themes of memory and realization. Viewers must carefully examine the artwork in order to achieve the sublime moment of realization once a new detail is discovered.

The 2016 Senior Honors Studio exhibition series will run through March 12 with a new show each week.

A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 16th print edition. Email Qianqian Li at [email protected]

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