The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present three new bodies of work from photographer Mark Laita: Amaranthine, Sea, and Serpentine. Mark Laita’s previous exhibitions at the Fahey/Klein Gallery were based on an eight year body of work entitled Created Equal, consisting of American diptych portraits that succeed in challenging or reinforcing our perceptions of American archetypes, and explore themes such as wealth, beauty, occupation, and age. In this most recent exhibition however, Mark Laita strays away from human subject matter all together, and instead focuses on beautifully preserved birds, mesmerizing snakes, and ethereal sea life.
In Amaranthine, Mark Laita expertly documents over 100 species of birds from several natural history museums’ ornithological archives. Photographed against a rich black background, the brilliance of the birds’ feathers and plumage is stunning—the feathers begin to resemble fine silks and brilliantly dyed, intricately patterned fabrics.
Typically, the only clue that the birds are actually preserved, and not living, is the handwritten identification tags tied around their feet. The birds’ feathers and plumage are just as brilliant, delicate, and iridescent as when they were alive. The title of the series, “Amaranthine” (meaning immortal and everlasting), further defines this body of work as a remarkable study of the precarious relationship between death and everlasting beauty.
Similarly, Serpentine is a collection of over 120 images of snakes, also photographed against a pure black background. Unlike Amaranthine, these subjects are very much alive, masterfully shot in a way that gives the viewer the impression that the serpentine subjects are capable of slithering off at any moment. The snakes are captured as they are twisting and curling— their long bodies making graphic and fluid shapes, their scales appear to glow with unearthly colors and nearly florescent hues.
The patterns of the scales, the shapes the bodies twist into, and the colors captured in their skins are undeniably mesmerizing, underlying the seductive quality and mythological presence that snakes have held throughout history.
The third body of work on display, Sea, captures images of sea creatures as they are reflected near the surface of their own world. The photographs reveal the ethereal and otherworldly nature of sea life. The brilliant colors and remarkable texture of each animal is highlighted as the luminous creatures float and twist towards the surface of the water. Sea, Mark Laita’s second publication, will be published by Abrams in the Fall/ Winter of 2011.
Mark Laita grew up in the Midwest cities of Detroit and Chicago, where he discovered photography at the age of fifteen. As a teenager he worked on a series of portraits of Chicago’s homeless, which thirty years later matured and expanded into Created Equal, Laita’s first Fine Art series published by Steidl in 2010. Mark Laita earned a degree in photography from Columbia College and the University of Illinois/Chicago. He divides his time between Los Angeles and New York City.
This exhibition runs through September 3, 2011
Fahey/Klein is located at: 148 North La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (323) 934-2250 Fax: (323) 934-4243
By Jim McKinniss