RayKo Photography Exhibition
features powerful portraits of girls and women
Photographs by Rania Matar
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 26th, 6-8pm
Exhibition dates: January 20th – February 21st, 2017
is a continuum of Rania Matar’s work from the past several years, and it’s a feast to view her multiple projects together. Through this collection of portraits, Matar leads us through many stages in the life of a woman. She photographs girls and young women from the US and from Lebanon, her country of origin. Matar notes, “These are not meant to be a comparison, on the contrary, as the lines blur quickly. Regardless of place, background and religion, girls that age everywhere seem united by similar feelings, aspirations and attitudes.”
The word “becoming” speaks to the whole cycle of growth but is perhaps best seen in two projects. In a still-developing body of work, Matar has returned to re-photograph the young women in the same environment as they’ve aged. In the tradition of the Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra, she has patiently employed the element of time, and it powerfully charts the change of growing up.
In Unspoken Conversations, Matar photographs young women with their mothers, a different and equally potent vision of growing older. The viewer is left to marvel at the similarities, imagining the form one woman came from, projecting the form the other may eventually take. Mother and daughter mirror one another and differentiate themselves like shifting magnetic poles. The women exchange gestures that take on new meaning as they echo one another.
Also on view at RayKo is a grid of 50 images from Matar’s landmark series, A Girl and Her Room, which is comprised of environmental portraits of teenaged girls in the United States and the Middle East. To quote the artist, “Being with those young women in the privacy of their world gave me a unique peek into their private lives and their inner selves. They sensed that I was not judging them and became an active part of the project. Their frankness and generosity in sharing access was a privilege that they have extended to me but also to all the viewers of this work.”
The profundity of each portrait compounds upon the next. As viewers, we are drawn into the subtlety of pose and attention to detail that Matar uses to weave together her portraits. The poised and refined quality of Matar’s composition contrasts the very real vulnerability of her subjects. It gives her images an unusual beauty; the sophisticated adult aesthetic of the female imagemaker creates a graceful vehicle for the spontaneous and unfiltered self-presentation of the young subjects. The resulting imagery is carefully sensitive to its subjects, while still revealing the complex world of emotions they inhabit.
Rania Matar will be here for the opening reception on January 26th, from 6-8pm. She will be signing copies of her latest monograph, L’Enfant Femme. Come get a copy and raise a glass to this artist and her powerful image making!
This exhibition is made possible with works on loan from Pictura Gallery, Grimaldis Gallery, and Richard Levy Gallery. Many thanks to Mia Dalglish and Lisa Woodward, co-curators at Pictura Gallery for their words and wisdom and vision.
RayKo Photo Center & Gallery is a comprehensive photographic facility, located near the Yerba Buena Arts District, with resources for anyone with a passion for photography. Established in the early 1990’s, RayKo Photo Center has grown to become one of San Francisco’s most beloved photography darkroom spaces; it includes traditional b&w, color and alternative process labs as well as a state-of-the-art digital department, a professional rental studio, galleries, and the Photographer’s Marketplace – a retail space promoting the work of regional artists. RayKo also has San Francisco’s 1st Art*O*Mat vending machine and a vintage 1947 black & white Auto-Photo Booth and a retail store that sells all types of used film cameras, from view cameras to Leicas to a build-your-own Nikon station. Everything you need to make any type of photograph!
RayKo Gallery serves to advance public appreciation of photography and create opportunities for regional, national and international artists to create and present their work. RayKo Gallery offers 1600 square feet of exhibition space and the Photographer’s Marketplace, which encourages the collection of artwork by making it accessible to collectors of all levels. RayKo also has an artist-in-residence program to further support artists in the development of their photographic projects and ideas. Recent resident artist, McNair Evans, and current resident artist, Carlos Javier Ortiz, are both 2016 Guggenheim Fellows.
RayKo Photo Center & Gallery, 428 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
Tuesday-Thursday: 10-10 pm, Friday-Sunday: 10-8 pm, Monday: closed