review

Vincent Serbin Exhibition
Toward Omega

Woodstock Times -May 5, 2005
by Paul Smart

"Metaphysical graffiti" is what Woodstock artist Vincent Serbin calls his distinctive brand of photography, which is serving as the premier exhibit at Bernard Gerson's beautifully renovated and reconceptualized Galerie BMG, located on Tannery Brook where Art & Soul once stood. And which will be celebrated with a artist's reception from this Saturday, May 7, from 5 to 7 pm.

Serbin's work utilizes components we've grown used to in the field: black and white nudes, landscape elements, angels and calligraphic scrawls are part of each image. And yet the completed works utilize a keen, groping sense of deep exploration, along with a craftsman's care at the perfection of each detail in his rich works, that sets them apart from most of what's around. Especially when combined with Serbin's use of torn negatives to create more than the combination of his individual elements.

"I began to focus on the metaphysical nature of time. This reflects our knowledge that the present moment is based on the coincidence of events in the past and in the future. Likewise our minds function by accessing our memories to make a decision about the future," Serbin has written of what fuels his imagery, giving it an added, otherworldly power. "To express this idea, I devised a diptych-like form, which juxtaposes two closely related negatives in a single image; the frame labeled 'event A' is a moment in the near past and 'event B,' a moment in the future. The work that I now create is a complex of text, various distressments, fragmented compositions, texture and color from chemical toners, optical distortions and cellophane tape."

It's also very beautiful, and memorable in a way that allows one to instantly recognize everything Serbin does.

His new show is filled with the specters of death and rebirth, of lust and remorse. It's rich body of work worth repeat viewings, even when some of the juxtapositions and implied narratives feel a bit too pat, and not as challenging as the processes Serbin uses should demand. It's designed to coincide with the release of a new, limited edition of Serbin's new book, Toward Omega copies of which, hand-printed and signed, will be available for sale.

Best of all, the Serbin work shows off what Gerson has done with the late Leilani Claire's commercial space, adding more walls and great dollops of subtlety and finesse that focuses attention on not only the gallery owner's keen eye for others' work, but his own art as well.

Gerson is also having an exhibit of his photographs at the WAA's solo gallery this month, opening next Saturday, May 14. He spent the winter months renovating the old Art & Soul space, a gallery since 1997, and has reconfigured its collection, as well as its general policy for exhibition, towards a more heightened aesthetic. Future shows include works by Jeri Eisenberg, Fawn Potash, Joni Sternback, Lori Nix and a number of New York City-based artists working in various photography-based styles.