Leah Macdonald

Woodstock Times -July 7, 2011
Smart Art by Paul Smart

Soliloquy at BMG

The liquidity of Leah Macdonald's imagery in her new Soliloquy exhibition at Galerie BMG is a perfect focus for overheated would-be photography collectors making their way through town right now. The Philadelphia-based artist, formerly of the area and now showing at Bernard Gerson's Tannery Brook gallery for years, has built her new series around sensuous feminine narratives that she calls "portraits of emotion," being all "about dreams and disappointments, imperfections, loneliness, fragility, mortality and identity, portrayed through solitary moments of self-reflection."

Starting with the stuff of classic black and white photography, Macdonald paints over her base images, of women in doorways, small moments captured enigmatically, with oils and wax, then scars her muddied works, as if placing them into ponds of memory and concentrating on that life which fills what we're forced to see through. The results play up the ways in which we see what she creates, the process and filters between us and the artist's intentions. But somehow, lyrically, they also accentuate the mysteries and dream-like resonance of the content she has chosen to amplify.

"Penetrating without being rough... like when the snow has fallen and frozen the world," she has written of her aesthetic here. "Before you can hear the birds singing, you can feel your own beating heart and everything is alive but deadly silentůMy one eye is like a hawk's, precise and crisp and my other eye is nearly blind, fuzzy and soft."

Combined with the great Camp show up at the Center for Photography just around the corner, as well as the ongoing exegesis on contemporary photography unfolding there via lectures and workshops all summer long, this cooling and cool little show indicates how far we've come from the idea that photos coldly capture singular truths, while also showing how little we've moved away from the magic and poetry of the medium's earliest work.