"Sacred Stones and Shadow" is typical of the best of Vasant Nayak's photographs at Nye Gomez. It's interesting for its composition, for the play of lights and darks, for the counterpoint of angles and rounded forms, for the way it captures textures."Sacred Stones and Shadow" is typical of the best of Vasant Nayak's photographs at Nye Gomez. It's interesting for its composition, for the play of lights and darks, for the counterpoint of angles and rounded forms, for the way it captures textures. But these things are not what it's about; it's about the solidity and permanence of the sacred stones that the image centers on, compared with the insubstantiality of the shadow of a person seen to one side.
This group of black-and-white photos record the Tuluva culture in which Nayak grew up in southern India. Individually, and to an even greater degree cumulatively, the major impression they leave is of the ephemeral nature of human life in the context of nature, man-made objects, traditions, religion.
In "Abandoned Steps," the steps are being overgrown by nature -- recapturing its own -- but man is nowhere to be seen. "Water Well" reflects a way of doing things that goes back for centuries or perhaps milleniums. In "Crossing Near River Temple" and "Devotee at Temple" people are a blur but the tree and the temple walls look as if they will be there forever.
Nayak is not entirely consistent. Here and there a picture doesn't quite come off; in "Broom and Shadow," the shadow looks like the photographer taking the picture, and it somewhat spoils the effect. But there is the consistency of not over-reaching; these works are modest, and their modesty is part of what makes them resonant.
Keith McCormack's drawings and paintings have bombing as their subject matter, but according to the artist they're not about war. They're about "social, political and monetary pressures" on individuals. They work best, however, as non-referential works, for their patterning, layering, illusionism, use of materials.
Gina Pierleoni's paintings and drawings of people are quirky, often humorous, and endearing. The long legs and big hands, the whimsical expressions and sometimes funny poses combine with colorful surfaces to create lively, engaging works. To interpret them too deeply would be a mistake; but we can take seriously Pierleoni's invitation at the end of her artist's statement, to "Enjoy!"
Who: Vasant Nayak, Keith McCormack, Gina Pierleoni.
Where: Nye Gomez Gallery, 836 Leadenhall St.
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays, through Feb. 22.
$ Call (410) 752-2080.