Imboden explores the human condition


October 08, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

If there is such a thing as a conventional nude, Connie Imboden's black and white photographs -- of nudes shown either in water or through the medium of a scratched mirror -- are far from it.

At Knight Gomez this month more than 40 of her works are on view, and such a concentration reveals especially well their exploration of aspects of the human condition. It's tempting to say they're psychological, and indeed some of them are, but others deal with relationships, and still others are about what could be called character traits.

The psychological ones have to do with states of mind common to all human beings -- fear, relief, ecstasy etc. Others suggest protectiveness or dependence. And then there are those (all but a few are untitled) which show a person who appears shy, or menacing.

The medium of the scratched mirror is particularly effective. Though less beautiful than the nudes in water Imboden began photographing some years ago, the very fact of the damaged mirror reflects (no pun intended) life's process of damage and disintegration. What's more, we appear to see Imboden's mirrored figures imperfectly, as through a veil, which perhaps symbolizes the partial, imperfect nature of any human being's perception of another.

Two of these works are in the nature of portraits, one of a man's face and the other the artist's "Self Portrait." They suggest that if Imboden should ever turn to portraiture she could be exemplary, for as other works here probe generalized states of mind these two reveal the inner depths of particular individuals. Imboden's self-portrait gives us a somewhat Picasso-esque dual vision of a single face, one aspect probing and analytical, the other withdrawn and thoughtful.

In the smaller "front" gallery this month are groups of works by Irvin Greif Jr. and Leonora Salzman. Salzman works with enamels on metal or paper. Greif's little drawings can be arcane; but one, titled "Stabat Mater," gradually reveals itself to the viewer as a work of considerable mystery and beauty.

The show continues through Nov. 2 at Knight Gomez, 836 Leadenhall St. Call 752-2080.

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