John Bonath at Camera Obscura Gallery, Denver, CO

Fourteen years of John Bonath’s photo-digital work is on display in “Blurring the Edges,” a show that features everything from large pigment giclée prints on paper and canvas to smaller hand-dyed and bleached archival silver gelatin prints. The work is not arranged chronologically. No dates are provided on the work or in gallery materials. That seems to be intentional. Bonath doesn’t find time relevant to magic (however it might be relevant to the realism part.) There is something kitschy about looking at a photograph of magic realism that features a bird nest or butterfly, ancient symbolism packed with meaning, and looking over and finding that bird’s nest with it’s tiny beige eggs sitting atop a bookshelf, or the vivid blue butterfly encased under glass. This is the case with the “Angels” series, strong portraits of aged, saggy and creping skin, a butterfly perched on an ear or knee. Magic realism is supposed to be less coincidental than surrealism, and the coincidence diminished the magic. I am not a fan of digital images printed on canvas, unless the artist can keep the materiality from overtaking the concept. The canvas is not evident in the Vortex Triptych “River of Chocolate.” The texture of the leaves and the smooth glaze of the babies’ skin works well. However, the hand worked elements on Bonath’s current flower series manages to peel away the veneer of magic and realism leaving me with nothing more than a mediocre photograph trying to be something it is not.

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2 thoughts on “John Bonath at Camera Obscura Gallery, Denver, CO

  1. What a pleasure to read a review such as this goes far past a mere decription of the art work. I find your words always to be “a real critic” of the work and this review is no exception

    Like

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