In differing ways, the two artists sharing ROY G BIV's gallery space in February work larger than life. In a nicely ironic touch, both also connect with viewers through portrayals of isolation.
Columbus artist Tony Shumski shows two floor-to-ceiling photo collages, respectively shot in Times Square and Downtown Columbus. A young, disaffected male subject stands at the center of each.
The Times Square piece, "The Collapse," brings its title to life by layering pieces of the image on a firm backing material and re-assembling them so that the location basically caves in on the figure. In "Reality By Proxy," Downtown is deconstructed into empty, interchangeable fragments.
As Shumski explains in a statement, the work follows his thinking about the impact on the traditional social life by untrustworthy realities constructed by consumerism, news cycles and social media status updates. Altogether they provide too much information, yet not the whole picture.
His gallery mate, painter Benjamin Duke, is also the recipient of ROY G BIV's first individual artist grant, a new program to offer member artists more than exhibition space.
Chosen by the organization's board from all of the artists on the 2010-11 calendar, Duke was given funds to help cover costs usually eaten by the artists, including materials and a truck rental to transport his large canvases between Columbus and his home in Lansing, Michigan.
Duke's figures have a more extroverted way of expressing alienation. The girl enjoying a coffee in the middle of "Double Shot Red Eye," for instance, stands on a micro-planet with another one hovering above, each overdeveloped and in flames. "TMI" captures a couple nearly stampeded mid-dessert by elephants and octopi.
His subjects are composites, Duke explained, presenting identity as a composite of reality, self-perception and occasionally self-preservation.
"The individual reflects the environment," he said. "I can't really be who I want to be, otherwise the social order will rein me in."