ROSEGALLERY presents Now and Then, an exhibition with a selection of never-before-seen photographs and sculptures by Jo Ann Callis. Now and Then, Callis’ second solo-exhibition with ROSEGALLERY, will be on view from 18 September until 24 November 2018.
A theater lives within Jo Ann Callis’ photographs, paintings and sculptures. The artist’s constructed scenes reinterpret reality, inserting pleasure and tension into the everyday. Less concerned with merely the straight aesthetic of an image, Callis conjures incredibly expressive scenes, which center on the physical sensations experienced by the models photographed and the emotions embedded in their interior states.
While studying under Robert Heinecken in the late 1970s, Callis experimented not only with figures and forms, but also with the creative potential of the photographic medium. Cultural, artistic and personal shifts enveloped the era in which Callis created these photographs; Callis left a marriage and entered the Los Angeles art scene as the feminist movement arose and as photography’s role as an art form drastically altered. While Callis did not feel she was at the frontlines of the feminist movement, she experienced the effects of this era and produced works that reveled in an openness of sexuality and pleasure.
While many of her photographs carry a playful sensibility, Callis also dives into dynamics of unease. In a selection of images never-before printed, Callis staged scenes like an office, photographing a progression of charged scenarios as two models moved distantly around one another. The office-like furniture and clothing subtly suggested an underlying dynamic of power and submission. While natural light tenderly floods into images of a girl in bed like in Northern Renaissance paintings, flood lights heighten the drama in others. These staged scenes visually perform and deconstruct the complex social and gender dynamics that Callis examines throughout her work. As this body of work from the 1970s parallels the enigmatic arrangements of Callis' Early Color portfolio, the figures and spaces continue the artist’s pursuit of internal emotional expression. In addition to image-making, Callis creates still lifes, sometimes for photographing and other times to exist as sculptures themselves. Forming these pieces as she forms her scenes, Callis always leaves the context for interpretation, relaying a story but never defining a narrative.