March 2005 – Contemporary Magazine, Issue 75 |
Once a photojournalist for high-profile glossy magazines, Jeffrey Aaronson has made the transition from truth to representation fairly artfully, although his method still owes more to fact than fiction. His series of New York streetscapes on display at Kashya Hildebrand, while luxuriously colourful and dizzyingly complex, are not modified in any way. Shot on location, each photo displays a reflective surface printed as a single image without digital manipulation. And each attempts an editorial on Manhattan urbanism – whether defining a zeitgeist, documenting crass materialism or lamenting the city’s terrorist tragedies.
Like the work of Richard Estes and other super-real painters of the 1970s, Aaronson’s tableaux let us pause in front of reflective images that are usually too baffling to comprehend in three dimensions. Just understanding which side of the reflection the viewer is on is enough of a game, but the particular subject matter that Aaronson has chosen is metaphor-laden and symbolic, although not altogether too complex or subtle. Blown up and highly saturated in saccharine-sweet confectionery colours, Aaronson’s affection is bountiful, particularly for the glitz and glam of Rockefeller-era commerce.
In Bergdorf Gloves (2004), elegant mitts in a window attract passers-by, while Bendel Eyes (2004) similarly glorifies a posh display featuring a femme fatale’s glance. He takes a Gursky-esque look at more banal shopping scenes in 99 Cent Store (2004), East Village Grocery (2004) and Tomato (2004), but the effect is still fashionable. Attempts to round out his cheery view – by stoking September 11 sympathy in oblique views of the American flag and a portrait of Lady Liberty – do not achieve the emotional balance that he may have sought. The word ‘terror,’ reflected from an LED sign on gleaming building panels is too blatant a trigger for easy nostalgia and patriotism. The full-colour large format simply invites cliché; but then, as a valentine to the city, it is one of the boldest New York has seen.
Read article at Contemporary Magazine, Issue 75 »