Cheryl McGinnis Gallery presens The Naiads, Tony Gonzalez’s new photographic series of contemporary images inspired by Neoclassical and Realist paintings. An artist with a nineteenth century sensibility working in a 21st century world, Gonzalez continues his ongoing studies of the traditional nude and the voyeuristic aspect of photography by combining digital technology with vintage gum bichromate printing techniques. Without being sentimental, Naiads empowers women, offering balance and an intimate connection with nature that still exists outside of today’s techno-global bubble.
An extension of his urban series of Bathers and The Bedroom, which looked at private domestic rituals within the sitter’s apartment, Naiads explores how those moments translate into a pastoral setting. Mythic sirens, sprites, mermaids, and naiads are women at their most comfortable in nature and with their own bodies. Although influenced by painters such as Bouguereau and Courbet, Gonzalez approaches his models as collaborators rather than as passive muses, including their names within the titles. Reminiscent of historic poses that have been reinvented by generations of painters, and of candid actions found in Gonzalez’s black and white Jersey Shore series, the images reveal a rich range of new and unexpected gestures resulting from moments of abandon with nature. “However, the figures in this series, while seemingly unaware of being photographed, are in fact completely conscious of the camera’s presence.” Climbing rocks and tenuous branches along the Hudson River at locations often suggested by the models themselves, Gonzalez captures the timeless bucolic beauty and awe expressed in Hudson River School paintings, while engaging the viewer in the sensations of water rippling and rushing against flesh and wind carving hair. A master of echoing shapes and lines within minimal compositions, he reconnects the human form and presence to its organic roots.
Gonzalez, whose painterly images have been published in Christopher James’ The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes, printed this series on Rives BFK watercolor paper using the meticulous and seductive nineteenth century process of gum bichromate that combines layers of gum Arabic, ammonium dichromate and watercolor pigments over a period of time.
In addition to photographs residing in numerous public and private collections, such as El Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, Hunter College, New York, NY; Center for Photography, Woodstock, NY; En Foco Inc., Bronx, NY; and Numina Gallery, Princeton, New Jersey, Gonzalez has had work published in a variety of publications including The Landmarks of New York, Volume IV; Texas Photo Society: Alternative Processes Traveling Exhibit Catalog, 2003; Nueva Luz Commemorative Issue, 2002; Professional Photographers of America, 2000; and the Ford Foundation: Annual and Quarterly Report, 1996-1999
Gonzalez is a recipient of three Professional Staff Congress-City University of New York (PSC-CUNY) Research Awards, an En Foco Inc. grant, and a Ford Foundation Fellowship, Tony Gonzalez earned his Master’s in Fine Arts at Yale University and his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cooper Union. Notable exhibitions include The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY; El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera in Buffalo, NY; El Museo del Barrio in New York City; Trenton City Museum, Trenton, NJ; The Cooper Union, New York, NY; Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Society for Contemporary Photography, Kansas City, MO; The Urban Center, New York, NY; La Mama La Galleria, New York, NY; Flushing Town Hall, Smithsonian Affiliate, Flushing, NY; Illinois Central College, Peoria, IL; Aljira Fine Arts, Newark, NJ. Selected reviews include The New York Times, The Star Ledger, Art Matters, Art of the Times and the Kansas City Star. Gonzalez is currently a Tenured Associate Professor at Queens College CUNY in Flushing, NY.