At the Fraser Gallery Georgetown to June 18, 2003
By Louis Jacobson
© Washington City Paper
Thursday, June 6, 2003.
Nudes have been grist for photographers for almost the entire history of the medium, so at this point, it's not as if there are many new ideas under the klieg lights. Vladimir Pcholkin's nudes, now on display at Fraser Gallery in Georgetown, underscore this premise: They're technically polished, but for the most part far from groundbreaking.
Pcholkin, born in Moscow, specialized early in his career in photographing professional dancers and other celebrities, then moved on to editorial and commercial photography. Though the images on display at Fraser are intended as art, the artist's earlier specialties exert a clear influence: The bodies of Pcholkin's subjects are gorgeous and athletic, and the atmospherics he creates are dramatic—sometimes with scenes illuminated by narrow bolts of light, other times with more subdued backlighting shaping the tableau.
Yet often Pcholkin's figures seem a little too perfect, the poses a little too conventional; only when Pcholkin lets loose does his work perk up. Figure No. 11, with its auburn highlights and blurred focus, offers an almost angelic vision that contrasts nicely with the rest of Pcholkin's skin-smooth oeuvre. Even more impressive is Figure No. 7, which offers a diffractive abstraction of the female form heightened by the unexpected visual overlay of hair strands near the subject's head. The image calls to mind Wanda Wulz's 1932 multiple-exposure work I + Cat, in which she superimposed the whiskered face of a cat on top of her own: That's the kind of inventiveness that could have elevated the rest of Pcholkin's images.
Vladimir Pcholkin: Figurative Photographs is on view from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, to Wednesday, June 18, at Fraser Gallery, 1054 31st St. NW. Free. (202) 298-6450. (Louis Jacobson)
© Copyright 2003 Washington City Paper