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Luis Mallo

Luis Mallo lives and works in the liminal spaces of the exile and the expatriate, and, not coincidentally, in the obscure and shadowy realm where art and description meet. His pictures are confident and curious but always a little slippery. He shows us what he sees and we see it too, but we are never quite sure why he has asked us to look in just such a way, or whether the emotions evoked by this looking are ours, his, or someone else's, and we do not know whether either the emotion or the vision is true.

The pictures of In Camera are straightforward and consistent in tone, palette, subject, and composition but they are also emotionally ambiguous and mysteriously intense. Each horizontal rectangle frames a vista: an empty street, a construction site, a building undergoing demolition--- and each vista is obscured by a physical barrier: a fence, a screen, a scrim, a rain-smeared window or a fabric blind that offer translucent glimpses of what is behind it or rigid gridlike abstractions that deconstruct the already fragmented whole they cover into tiny multiple compositions of form that inexplicably become their own meaning. To compound this layered study of looking, in many cases, Mallo's scrim is parted, his fabric is torn, and his fences are constructed with interstices so that shards and slivers of a single evidentiary layer, almost shocking in their immediacy, glow ambiguously within the folds, vines, sticks, shadows and smears that simultaneously, hide, isolate, define, reveal and mask them. Looking at these pictures is a complex act. They are photographs after all, unaltered and directly descriptive.

Alison Nordstrom

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