“Claudia Parducci + Melinda Gibson” at Sloan Projects

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“I See I See,” 2013, Claudia Parducci
“I See I See,” 2013, Claudia Parducci, acrylic, silver foil on canvas, 70″ x 78″ Photo: courtesy Sloan Projects
“I See I See,” 2013, Claudia Parducci
“I See I See,” 2013, Claudia Parducci, acrylic, silver foil on canvas, 70″ x 78″
Photo: courtesy Sloan Projects

The seeming dichotomy between the two series on view in the promising inaugural exhibition at Sloan Projects-three large-scale paintings by Claudia Parducci paired with a series of intimately scaled collaged photographs by Melinda Gibson-may have more in common than first glance might suggest. Though culled from disparate sources, each artist tackles iconic imagery in order to reassess the weight they typically wield. The source material for Los Angeles-based Parducci consists largely of documentary-style photographs that record the aftermath of destruction and suggest the brutal force of both manmade and natural forces. Formally, they are a balance of oppositions. Contrasting the precision of the original image, Parducci re-envisions the subject with expressive, painterly brushstrokes interrupted by the geometry of messages written in Morse code across the surface; the dominating angst of ruined structures rendered in ghostly white is balanced by the calming palette of warm grays and tinted shades of blues and lavender. At once troubling and soothing, the works provoke a reexamination of the type of images that have come to define contemporary events, allowing those unaffected a view of tragedy from the luxury of a safe distance.

Contrasting the monumentality of Parducci’s paintings are UK-based Melinda Gibson’s collage works. The ten individual works are installed in a repetitive manner, just below eye level, methodically spaced at regular intervals within identical frames. Where Parducci explores the sublime, Gibson mines the didactic: her collages are composed of the photographic images that fill the pages of Charlotte Cotton’s academic textbook, “The Photograph as Contemporary Art,” which Gibson came across as a student at the London College of Communication. Forget writing notes on the margins; in these works Gibson literally deconstructs the authority of the academic text, as she cuts out, rearranges and overlaps the “textbook examples,” creating new meanings and associations from the photography of her predecessors. The motif of the human silhouette becomes a unifying element of these works, from layered images which form a Magritte-esque bust in Photomontage VII, to the sensuality of intertwined reclining figures fastened out of the interior scenes and landscape photography of Photomontage VII, originally from the pages 153, 169 and 178 from Cotton’s tome. Like Parducci, Gibson’s work prompts a desire to reassess the influence of the ubiquitous images from daily life, whether they aim to document or educate.