He towers in the main room against a column, taking up two stories to stand in his overalls with his reflection on the square blocks at his feet. He is the self-portrait of Croatian-born artist Srdjan Loncar, constructed of polystyrene and photographs, held in place with pins, and a feature of Photos and Phantasy, the new exhibit at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard.
“When I think of photographs, I think of black-and-white photography. It used to be that you could only be creative with a canvas,” said Billie Milam Weisman, curator of the exhibit.
“They have expanded the boundaries to print on every medium possible.”
The 75-piece exhibit is on loan from the Fredrick R. Weisman Foundation in Los Angeles. The foundation houses more than 400 pieces of art in its permanent collection. The foundation began in 1982 as a way for Fredrick R. Weisman to share his personal art collection. The foundation provides tours of its Los Angeles estate as well as providing art on loan to various museums across the country.
“[We have] all this art and we want to share it,” Weisman said.
The exhibit features modern photography, printing methods and sculptures by artists such as Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Dawn DeDaux, Robert Rauschenberg, Didier Massard, Trujillo-Palmer, Orlan and Loncar.
The exhibit is the premier for three works of art in the show. The surrealist photography of “Rhino” and “Grotto” by Massard define the potential beauty of photo surrealism. Jarbas Lopes’ “Untitled” features woven photographs of politicians’ faces, conveying the notion that all politicians sound alike.
“Rhino” consumes a wall of the exhibit with a magnificent beast, illuminating the delicate detail of the skin and horn, as the animal seems to radiate a glowing light. The sheer size of the print creates a living creature.
In “Grotto,” the water and rock create a still harmony with the electrifying sunlight. Yet the print appears free from a direct, harsh source of light, intensifying the serene of the sea.
The pieces combine photography and technology to create specific styles of art. The span of technology used in the exhibit works spans more than 100 years. Digital photography shares the walls with gelatin-silver print, which has its origins in the 1870s, as the black-and-white processing of a film negative.
In a contemporary look at photography, the artist Orlan uses facial reconstructive surgery to create self-portraits that question the global concepts of beauty. Her portrait as an indigenous woman spares no detail to make her face as a coarse stone statue, as the vibrant purple color of the canvas reminds the viewer that the work is a modern one.
From the massive three-dimensional self-portrait of Loncar, the seemly life-size 2-D “Rhino” by Massard, to the gelatin-silver prints of Rauschenberg, or the surgical face-reconstruction in the photographs of Orlan, there are few limits to the surreal.
“It’s like a child’s eyes looking at the fair,” Weisman said of the vibrant Trujillo-Palmer C-print, “Hot Cakes I.”
Weisman originally set out to obtain contemporary sculpture for the foundation, and that led to her modern photography collection.
“I didn’t know we collected photography,” Weisman said. “I don’t think of them as photographs, I think of them as gorgeous artwork. I guess I am collecting photography.”
The Frederick R. Weisman Foundation has two current exhibits on loan, Photos and Phantasy as well as an exhibit, Art and Illusion, at Roseville Arts! in Roseville, Calif.
Weisman has curated a previous event at the Carnegie Art Museum, Art and Illusion, an exhibit featuring post-modern photo-realism, from December 10, 2005 to February 19, 2006.
During the exhibit the museum is also featuring photographs from the Carnegie Art Museum Collection, Permanent Collection’s Holdings of California Photography in the lower level of the museum.
The Carnegie Museum is located at 424 South C St., Oxnard, and open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Photos and Phantasy runs through May 18.