One of the most profound and technically proficient photographers on the contemporary scene, Delilah Montoya fuses an intimacy with Mexican Catholicism and penetrating insight into human spiritual struggle in her series pitting her subject, Felix Martinez, a convict who was later murdered in a jail cell in Albuquerque, against a shrouded figure of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Reminiscent of Eikoh Hosoe’s renowned series, “Ordeal by Roses,” in which the Japanese poet Mishima battled against the flowers in a metaphysical beauty contest, Montoya has her powerful masculine subject, sporting a tattoo of the Virgin on his back, strive to submit himself to the saint to whom he is fated to succumb, as Mishima did to the roses. Montoya even challenges Martinez by embedding him in roses, a blood-red clump of which he grasps with his hand. For Hosoe, the torture of aspiring after beauty was the deepest tragedy of existence; for Montoya, it is the pain of confronting the imperative of holiness. For both of these great philosophical photographers, the sacred triumphs over the profane, at the cost of the individual—such is the tragic sense of life. (Michael Weinstein)
Through July 31 at La Llorona Art Gallery, 1474 W. Webster. (773)281-8460.