Artist: Rachael Portocarrero
Gallery: College Avenue Galleries
April 11, 2012
It was opening night, the galleries filled with the buzz of conversation and laughter. I moved quickly through the four small galleries of California College of the Arts taking in the different atmospheres and looking for people I knew. For the moment I was alone amongst all the people gathered and the art that had drawn us all together began to come more clearly into focus. Each gallery’s artist was very different from the one preceding not only in media but in mood. Great care was taken by these artists, all soon to graduate and go out into the world with their final projects swirling about, hopefully inspiring their futures despite the relief that the stress was finally over.
As I returned to Gallery 3, it seemed a quieter space than those surrounding it. Tones were more hushed and the onlookers leaned in close to examine the details of large photos. This collection of work, entitled Limbo, moves through body and spirit leaving the mind at first to wonder, “How did she do that?” If you can let go of the technical, you just might lose yourself in the fantastic. I was reminded of Chagall’s paintings of couples flying over cities, clinging to each other in love and dream. These works subtly encourage the viewer to spend time with them and offer great rewards for patience.
The images presented in Limbo are figural: they are either well grounded in preparation for flight or content after having just landed, with the rest captured magically defying gravity. We are invited, even welcomed to witness this moment that is right in-between consciousness and dream, reality and the spiritual. Ladies hover over ground like fairies; some float as if they are entering a dream and might disappear at any moment. There is tension created since this is not something we see in our waking world yet is not threatening. In this piece, it seems as though the floating figure has just left the ground and is somehow working out some problem in life, perhaps very spontaneously as just the right moment alone presented itself.
Here, high above the city, hazy afternoon light wraps around the figures enhancing the ethereal dimension. It is a serene and safe place. Although two figures share this space, it seems as though they could be one and the same person, suggesting some sort of other dream-self. In this photo, there seems to be more tension between the figures and the viewer as if they would prefer us to stand back and observe then take our own journey after they have disappeared.
In contrast, there is a young woman who is sitting on concrete, toes just barely touching the grass who almost wants someone to join her as she prepares for flight. She does not want to be alone, whether or not she’s taken this journey before. She is one of the figures who helps to ground the whole show, quite literally in the space that we inhabit. She sits quietly alone and I noticed she was often overlooked by a lot of the passers-by. Her importance lies in that connection that we may be looking for to get us from here to there – the guide that can help us fly and better understand the journey to the space betwixt spaces, where time is as suspended as we might be.