Luciana Pampalone at Robin Rice Gallery

Art Scene

Luciana Pampalone at Robin Rice Gallery

An unmistakable theatrical quality is evident in the photographic exhibition, Luciana Pampalone, titled after the artist herself. Featuring a narrative series of black and white images set in a 1930s version of the Peconic Bay in Southampton, New York, the work showcases Pampalone’s skills as both a photographer and director.

The storyline unfolds with a male and female playfully cavorting amidst a picturesque natural landscape. Props including a Graphlex camera, aviator goggles, parasols, retro bathing suit and games of croquet act as inanimate characters in each image, masterfully defining Pampalone’s 1930s aesthetic.

The self-titled exhibition situates both Pampalone, as director, and her female lead, as a fashionably alluring Graphlex photographer, as heroines. Strong women as central, commanding characters are a recurring theme in much of Pampalone’s work. The charisma and joy of both Pampalone as a real life photographer and her fictional photographer is unmistakably evident in her body of work.

The male subject in the series of images is a muse that appears to bend to the carefree whims of his leading lady. In some sense, he is a prop basking in the delight of her presence. A floatplane, or seaplane, sits in the background of a few of the images, bringing Amelia Earhart to mind, or the free spirited potential of a life buttressed by wealth.

Pampalone’s main story in the exhibition unfolds in a series of nine photographs on the left hand wall of the gallery. The powerful emotional appeal of the actors and their staging equally entice viewers to take a closer look. The images creamy black and white appeal, with richly toned shades of grey, black, and white, create the same intimacy or vibrancy that a viewer might feel if the images had been shot in color.

On the opposite wall of the gallery, a pleasing graphic series of images captures a set of umbrellas poolside at what appears to be a private residence. Their presentation brings to mind a leisurely afternoon of sunbathing and cocktails at a private hideaway without a care in the world. An interesting point of departure for another story, one set amidst the great depression of the 1930s in the United States and the geopolitics leading up to World War II in 1939.

Luciana Pampalone at Robin Rice Gallery is on view through 12/31/17.