Scylla & Charybdis by Chris Komater is a large-scale photographic installation based on the mythological sea creatures that the Homeric hero Odysseus was forced to choose between and sail past in his wanderings. The phrase “choosing between Scylla and Charybdis” has come to mean choosing between two equally unpleasant options.
Komater is interested in challenging received ideas of beauty and masculinity, frequently looking at subject matter given little prior aesthetic attention. Inspired by the eroticization and fetishization of large hairy men within the gay community his work grapples with an ideal of beauty quite outside of the mainstream. His photo projects invite the viewer to contemplate new ideas about beauty through a visual engagement with our subliminal and overt anxieties about the body.
At the center of the installation black and white closeups of a hirsute male body comprise two large photographic grids each composed of the same 12 images but arranged in different ways to evoke abstracted versions of the two mythic creatures Scylla and Charybdis. A third grid called Swell is composed of closeup photos of a man’s long white beard and furry shoulders the images arranged to echo a tumultuous seascape and bringing to mind Poseidon the god of the sea.
Flanking the three grids are large color images of spider webs. The webs are blurry set against a lurid red background creating a kind of psychologically charged space. Insects wander into spider webs only to be trapped and devoured. The installation can be seen as a sort of aesthetic trap the viewer lured into Komater’s world.
Chris Komater’s photographs and installations have been shown at Cheryl Haines Gallery, Patricia Sweetow Gallery, Mark Wolfe Contemporary Arts, Meridian Gallery, and the LAB Gallery in San Francisco; Jan Kesner Gallery in Los Angeles; Bernard Toale Gallery in Boston and many other venues. He is the recipient of a WESTAF-NEA Regional Visual Arts Fellowship, a Market Street Art-in-Transit grant, and was the founding director and curator of Secession Gallery a non-profit gallery without walls in San Francisco and the online arts venue Marjorie Wood Gallery. This is Chris’ second solo show at the Mercury 20 Gallery.
Reception: Saturday, July 11, 4-7 pm
Third Thursdays on 25th Street: July 16, 6-8pm with Artist Talk at 7pm
Art Murmur First Fridays: July 3 and Aug 7, 6-9pm