Chicago’s John Opera and L.A.’s Amir Zaki join forces in a compelling show. The landscape as altered by perspective is at the center of each artist’s work. Opera’s camera is pointed toward the ethereal calm of Midwestern lakes and forests, translated into an array of literal and abstract terms. Formal elements of shape and texture are enhanced to present the spiritual/intellectual instances of nature, resulting in the blurring of the line separating the animate and the inanimate. Zaki, on the other hand, juxtaposes the two. He snatches wildlife from its habitat and plops it down on a manicured lawn. Photos are reminiscent of Hollywood head shots where nature is in the spotlight, placed against a neutral background, bathed in balanced light. Compositions are chock-full of severed limbs and distorted trees manipulated and placed within the urban sprawl of sidewalks, front yards and orange traffic cones. There is an attempt, however failed, at reuniting the two worlds. One photograph depicts a fragment of a trunk physically hinged to its detached foundation and another shows such detritus gathered at the roots of one living tree in hopes of reconvening. (Karissa Lang)
Through Feb 9 at Shane Campbell Gallery, 1431 W. Chicago.