Tim Roda: Vantage Points

Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA - Nov 2 - Dec 23

by Matthew Kangas

The Pennsylvania-born Italian American artist Tim Roda, who got his start in Seattle after graduating with an MFA in ceramics from the University of Washington, returns for his fifth solo show since his 2003 debut. Since then, the sky has been the limit for Roda, with acclaim for his constructed-set black-and-white photographs using family members. Each large-scale vignette uses jerry-rigged lumber, sloppy ceramic props, kitsch elements such as plastic flamingos, plus the artist, his son and at times his wife in awkward situations.

This approach has gone over big in New York, Toronto, Hamburg and Poznań, to name but a few of the places his work has been seen, and has been written about extensively in Modern Painters, Artforum, The New Yorker and the local press. Roda is a central focus of the 2016 anthology Family Photography Now, by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren.

Much of the interest in Roda’s work in Europe has revolved around the strong narrative, not to say literary, implications of the setups he photographs with members of his own family. Freudians love his work, as do photography aficionados and ceramics enthusiasts. With each audience, he has expanded and challenged conventions such as print size and gothic subject matter or, in the case of clay, the insertion of unfired clay elements as props, such as super-long legs on a reclining figure.

With extreme shadows and deliberately casual printing techniques, Roda subverts conventional expectations of “fine photography.” As he put it, “I could print what photographers perceive as the perfect picture, but I would consider that to be imperfect.” His process is more akin to the dodging and burning of Diane Arbus, though on enormous scale. Like Arbus, using people he knows but setting them up in wildly improbable, pseudo-mythological boxes, Roda satirizes family life and childhood with dark undertones.

Opening reception First Thursday, Nov 2, 6-8pm

Artist talk Nov 4, noon


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