Photographer Mark McKnight scores with Park View/Paul Soto present

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“Swallow” will not be your strange photographic portrait of a tree, which has been a standard topic for artists virtually from the nineteenth century begin of digital camera work. As a substitute of intrinsic majesty inside — or over — nature, Mark McKnight turns the custom into one thing vaguely ominous and worrying.

The massive, black-and-white gelatin silver print in his debut solo exhibition at Park View/Paul Soto gallery reveals what seems to be a mighty oak in all its sturdy, leafy, pure splendor, standing grandly on the prime of an increase in an open panorama. But, surprisingly, absolutely one-quarter of the picture is obscured by a sensuous black swipe of deep shadow throughout the sector, operating from the underside left edge all the best way to the proper.

The tree stands poised to be engulfed by encroaching darkness — swallowed up and consumed. Flooding the decrease register, the shadow emerges from the place the viewer stands, as if we’re already engulfed by it.

Possibly we’re the metaphorical supply of the shade, projecting darkness right into a imaginative and prescient of a tree that’s only a distant aspiration. Formally, the darkish, velvety smear pulls a viewer shut to look into the scene to see what, if something, is happening beneath the lowered limbs of the sheltering tree.

A black-and-white photo of clouds.

Mark McKnight, “Clouds II,” 2021, gelatin silver print

(Park View / Paul Soto Gallery)

McKnight deftly harnesses commonplace metaphors — the tree as house to the spirit, sanctuary of the soul; the panorama as an unsullied Eden set in opposition to a fraught humanity — and turns them to his personal ends. He does the identical with images centered on clouds within the sky: Massive, fluffy volumes overhead are shot by with vaporous gentle. But, a storm additionally appears to be brewing, a looming coronary heart of darkness throughout the ephemeral ether that intrudes on the chance for getting misplaced in an idyllic summer time daydream.

McKnight has titled the exhibition “Starvation for the Absolute,” borrowed from the e book “The Metaphysical Canine,” a set by revered American poet Frank Bidart. The photographer is 36; the poet, 81. The selection suggests generational passage and autobiographical specificity: Each artists are Southern California born, went to highschool at UC Riverside, determine as homosexual or queer, and focus their work on subjective intersections of the spirit and the flesh.

Clenched fingers of 1 man dig deep into the bare flesh of a second man mendacity on prime of him in a roughly life-size picture, their our bodies seen in nameless closeup with simply bits of grass on the edges. Expressively titled “Tear,” the phrase and the picture will be learn a number of methods — as an ecstatic rending or a deep harm.

Large photographs hang on white walls in an empty gallery.

Mark McKnight, “Starvation for the Absolute” set up view

(Park View / Paul Soto Gallery)

A photo of a fallen tree.

Mark McKnight, “Untitled (Tree Void),” 2021, gelatin silver print

(Park View / Paul Soto Gallery)

For “Untitled (Tree Void),” the hollowed-out trunk of a decaying tree appears to imitate a determine crouching on its knees within the grass. The panorama as a metaphorical physique is once more evoked, as it’s in “Tear.” But these should not the idealized physiques of conventional erotic pictures.

A listing of the notable photographers referenced in McKnight’s photos would come with William Henry Fox Talbot, Alfred Stieglitz, Robert Mapplethorpe and Laura Aguilar — 150 years of the medium without delay embraced, absorbed and reworked. The frankly symbolic, formally attuned, ethereally summary and potently political all merge in a collection of eight extremely participating images.

Mark McKnight

The place: Park View/Paul Soto, 2271 W. Washington Blvd., L.A.

When: By appointment Tuesdays-Saturdays, by April 24

Data: (213) 509-3518, www.paulsoto.web

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