Marek Ranis: White Supremacy
New Gallery of Modern Art, through May 5
At this exhibition, you can wander into the weeds of academic discourse or simply behold the brooding graphite-on-plaster sculptures and digitally manipulated photographs. Either choice brings rich rewards.
Ranis, who teaches sculpture at UNC Charlotte and exhibits internationally, addresses political, social and environmental issues through work that, although sometimes a challenge to understand, is compelling to view.
This exhibition teems with imagery largely inspired by Wroclaw, Poland, where Ranis grew up. Emerging from his interest in post-colonial theory, it deals with the end of Western dominance and the emergence of other world powers.
Ranis’ impressive digital images on aluminum are based on aerial photographs of his hometown. Some of them show the winding streets of Breslau, Germany, before the monthslong Siege of Breslau at the close of World War II; others show the city’s bombed-out remains, after the borders changed and Breslau, now part of Poland, was renamed Wroclaw. Superimposed on them are manipulated, Rorschach-like photographs of Ranis’ sculptures, which variously resemble bunkers or leering masks. The effect is beautiful and unnerving.
Anthony Goicolea: De/Construction
Van Every Gallery, Belk Visual Arts Center, Davidson College, through April 18
The diverse works in this exhibition explore the artist’s identity as an outsider – a gay Cuban-American who grew up the South before settling in Brooklyn.
“Displaced,” an ominous short video screened in a darkened gallery, depicts a man in a small boat tossing concrete blocks overboard. The only illumination seems to come from his headlamp, and the only sounds are wind, blocks hitting the water, and distant sirens.
Like “Displaced,” the video “Code” evokes feelings of paranoia, of being hunted; shot at night at the edge of a wooded area, it consists of pulsating lights that seem directed at the viewer.
Goicolea’s attention to detail is exquisite, whether in a large drawing of swarming bees or construction blocks rendered not in concrete but in lead crystal.
Even if they do not portray the artist, there is a way in which all these works are self-portraits, in their depictions of Goicolea’s sense of otherness.