NOMA GALLERY is pleased to announce an exhibition of photography by Charles Anselmo.
Contemporary photographic deconstruction tends to have a rather quick reading, based as it is on get-it-now advertising and commercial photography style. Where Charles Anselmo's documentary photographs (of the "achingly beautiful and conflicted" cities of Havana and New Orleans) differ is their sense of time's passage and the human presence, absorbed by and visible within these crumbling walls and abandoned places. There is of course a tradition in modern photography of finding beautiful texture, pattern and color in decay; often these photos are startlingly reminiscent of abstract paintings, within a subjectivity wrought by natural forces that is discovered by an eye attuned to beauty.
Anselmo's work is certainly a feast for the eye, but it is deeper psychologically, vividly conveying both mortality and transcendence. He describes his perambulations around Havana as "like walking inside a living thing." His ruined buildings exude quiet tragic dignity and humanity. Like Walker Evans' photos of Depression sharecroppers' shacks, they are both documentary and humanistic in the broadest sense. The feeling pulsing within these works is the same we receive contemplating Rembrandt's depictions of age-ravaged or otherwise unglamorous models, or Rouault's errant sinning flock, something lost to most contemporary art: an almost religious compassion and humanism; a moral sense and a philosophical dimension. Evans' stated goal was images that would be "literate, authoritative and transcendent." Anselmo's photographs restore a larger sense of humanity to a contemporary art esthetic that has become quick and trivial under the onslaught of consumerism and its sometimes theoretically blinkered adversaries.