Exhibition Preview from Akimbo

Preview from Akimbo

Karen Asher is a recent art school graduate whose photographs at Platform Gallery have the intimacy of her teacher Larry Glawson’s pics, the raw truthfulness of David McMilllan (another of her teachers), and the purist formality that I associate with both mentors. She makes square C-print pictures the old fashioned way, with chemicals and film, and then has us identify with her subjects in images that are full of sentiment and colour. There is much empathy and not a glimmer of ill will in this art. Unlike one of her heroes, Diane Arbus, who often seems malicious in her portrayal of marginal people, Asher is deeply compassionate.

Her Ice Cream Man widens his old mouth into a smile below an oxygen tube that runs up his nose. He has reconciled himself with his looks and his ailments, and there is something brave about how he holds up a happy ice cream cone. Bella & Marvin are a most peculiar couple in a most peculiar room. Is it a hotel, a condo, or a movie set? The décor, the clothing, and even the hairstyles sing an ode to ersatz mid-century style in a picture taken, astonishingly, in 2009 (only in Winnipeg!).

– Cliff Eyland