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Photographer: Eric Tschaeppeler
Tammy Salzl, "The Chorus," 2011, oil on canvas, 84” x 60”.
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Tammy Salzl, "Careful," 2012, oil and conte on mylar, 20” x 24".
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Tammy Salzl, "The Compromise," 2010, oil on canvas, 60” x 72”.
TAMMY SALZL: Into the Woods
April 12 to May 24, 2013
AKA Gallery, Saskatoon
By Margaret Bessai
Tammy Salzl’s painting series, Into the Woods, does not journey into an actual forest, but into allegory. In the Sondheim musical of the same title, the woods are a symbolic place based on Grimms’ fairy tales, a site where characters must face the repercussions of their actions. Salzl’s work uses similar cultural narratives. In The Chorus, background figures comment on the protagonist, as if part of a classical Greek drama, expressing concern, issuing warnings. Salzl uses the dimensional quality of oil paint to give a translucent glow to her subjects, nearly life-size figures of children and animals painted in a lushly realistic portrait style. Their gaze meets ours with an unselfconscious innocence, creating an unsettling tension as we take in the facts of their mutated and hybridized bodies. Salzl describes her intention: “I want the flesh I paint to make a connection between the material of paint and the material of the body, to reflect not only a psychological makeup but to suggest an ‘objectness’ of the body – a medium that is vulnerable to the stresses of life. I want the flesh I make to embody the human condition … Deformities and mutated births have always served as portents or omens … portraying them in contemporary times, they take on a very different meaning. Our science and technology allow us to understand these mutations, yet they are still signs of the direction we are taking ourselves.” Salzl, who earned a BFA at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, is based in Montreal.