Arts-Louisville Reviews
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Visual Arts

March 6, 2017
 

Where Salvation Lies

Craig Bunting, “Bear with Elder #1″, charcoal on paper, 42″ x 60”, 2016

 

Our City of the Flowers: Drawings by Craig Bunting/Photographs by Mark Puckett

Review by Keith Waits

Entire contents copyright © 2017 Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

The work of two artists can be found on the walls of Galerie Hertz, yet the images stem from one artistic sensibility. Craig Bunting has executed a series of bold drawings that are paired with dark-themed photographs by Mark Puckett primarily shot following Bunting’s instructions.

Bunting’s oversize drawings are rendered in charcoal strokes opaque enough to be mistaken for ink, or at least a few dozen drained broad-tip Sharpies. They depict herds of bison in great, weighty mass, spread across the substrate as a dense field of intricate marks, bears, or, a bear, for they are depicted as individual entities paired with one human form; a graven, clerical figure that Bunting has labeled “Elder.”

The drawings are dominated by the relationship between nature and humankind, with a suggestion that there is still another layer of understanding to our guided destinies. Yet the photographs seem to be telling another story, one that exposes the dark and seamy aspect of human existence.

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Mark Puckett, “Sylvia series #1″ (inspired by Otto Dix’s portrait of of journalist Sylvia Von Harden c.1926), C-print,16″ x 20”, 2017

The exhibit is a lot to take in. A complex and seemingly contradictory narrative that contrasts the natural world against the decadence and corruption of modern society, all observed by omnipresent, extraterrestrial overlords (with apologies to Isaac Asimov). I’m not sure how easily viewers will make these connections on their own, but the exhibit statement builds pathways that help us get there:

‘There is pain and joy and love, pistils and pollen and ripening fruit, sex rituals and blood rituals, science and music and reminders of the ancient ones, paths left for us to follow to what awaits.  We shall work with our hands again, and the duties of one’s days will represent the value and worth of their lives.”

So the journey through the depravity and decadence requires a return to a primitive life that will allow us to reconnect to the earth and opens us up to ancient, mystical spiritual practices of a far more elemental nature than what modern society normally provides. Mark Puckett’s photographs range from highly stylized compositions that could serve as advertising for 1933 Berlin or Paris, to less polished images of a model whose body is painted in unflattering fashion, to a series that features nude human figures posing in tableau while holding cut-outs that echo Picasso’s “Guernica.” The allusion to the destruction of war is indirect but clear enough.

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Craig Bunting, “Bison Herd” 40″ x 60″, charcoal on paper, 2017

Thus it is in that very contrast within the imagery itself that Bunting hopes to communicate his message. The Neo Weimar Republic photographs illustrate the evil contamination that we must escape; the corruption of our moral character through Hedonism and self-destruction. The forensic, journalistic quality of the photographic medium captures the grim and gritty reality of our current life, while the visionary ideal of the drawings feel like prospectus illustrations for a new world, springing from the mind’s eye of the artist, showing us nothing less than our path to salvation.

Our City of the Flowers: Drawings by Craig Bunting/Photographs by Mark Puckett

January 21 – March 18, 2017

Wednesday-Saturday, 12-5pm

Galerie Hertz
1253 South Preston Street
Louisville, KY 40203
Galeriehertz.com

 

KeithKeith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of PUBLIC on WXOX-FM 97.1/ ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.





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