Water has long stimulated humanity’s imagination: it is
mysterious, powerful, yielding, and fundamental for our existence and survival.
Michael Dweck & Howard Schatz
,” now at Staley-Wise Gallery
photographers capture some of the allure of the aquatic. They depict its
physical and mystical qualities in prints that are sensuous, erotic, and
voluptuous, fantastical scenes of nude women in water and staged in whimsical
aquatic tableaux. In Schatz’s The Last Supper (underwater)
artist recreates da Vinci’s
with a troupe of sub-marine harlequins
substituted in for Jesus and his apostles. The checkered and optically illusive
patterns of the players’ dresses reflect against the rippling surface above,
and the water gives the entire scene the appearance of weightlessness. Schatz
delights in optical effects, having formerly worked as a leading
ophthalmologist before retiring to pursue art full time. “I like the work I do.
Having a passion is a lucky thing,” he told The
New York Times
. In Underwater Study #2917
shows a voluptuous model, casting a warm, otherworldly pink light on her, with
small bubbles clinging to her nude body as she swims above the viewer.
Michael Dweck’s photographs experiment with presentation and the
invention of narrative. In his “Mermaid” series, such as Mermaid 128,
Aripeka, Weeki Wachee, Florida (2008), Dweck presents in black and white a
topless young woman from the chest up, against a background of sky and ocean.
She, the object of our gaze, looks over her shoulder, long hair obscuring her
identity. Through these means and the framing of the title, Dweck casts the
young woman as a mermaid, a mythical half-human, half-fish creature said to
kill sailors. She is sexually alluring and somewhat threatening. In his
vibrantly colored Wallpaper: Mermaid 105, Miami, Florida (2007), Dweck
has printed his photo in enormous scale, creating a custom wallpaper printed on
canvas. Two other photographs of nude women are printed on glistening, phallic
Both artists revere the pretty and the unpredictable—here in the
form of turbulent water flowing over womens’ bodies. Each has emphasized the
effect in different ways, with particular attention to the luscious surfaces,
colors, and details that photography excels in.