Images from the “ANTI-Hero” Series Photo-Manipulations By Carlos Batts
Fototeka Gallery will present during the month of February “Love Hurts,” a solo exhibit of the recent works of photo-collage artist Carlos Batts. The artist’s photo-manipulations, lush and brimming with imagery and texture and a wide range of emotion, are hand-produced, using traditional collage-making techniques, mixing painting, photography and film. Batts, who is African-American, draws upon a multi-layered set of influences, from early African art and Cubism to the work of the African-American artist Romaire Bearden as well as from comic books, horror movies and porn.
What emerges is an abstract, complex style, grafting peculiar shapes and forms across a seemingly liquid surface — one that uses light and color to push the envelope of photography in a non-digital way. Twenty-six years old, Batts has worked in the fields of erotica and fashion, often using the imagery of bondage and sexual fetish, pushing it into the realm of aesthetics. The artist takes subject matter that is inherently out of context, removes it once gain, and places it in a new context of light and texture and the human search for connection. The resulting works bring emotion and dimension to a range of subject matter associated with the lack of it.
Collage works in “Love Hurts” include “Anti-Hero,” which explores a terrain of loneliness. A series of images — nudes, a man’s face, foliage that resembles fire, bodies that call to mind flames, bones and desiccated plant-life, written words, washes of color — are placed somewhat uneasily side-by-side, in three rows; they share space and ask questions. “Queen Misery” shows a young woman, in heavy makeup and a crown; she is in motion, the image out of focus. Superimposed is the image of a woman’s upper torso, her breasts and neck covered in heavy chains; this image is still and taken at further distance. Washes of color not literally related to the scene, and the intrusion of shape from the edges of the composition, provide a context that opens “Queen Misery” to their eyes and minds. Batts is credited with the acclaimed series “Hammer Will Fall”; “This Is Why I Hate Myself”; and “Anti-Hero: Alter Egos and Tales of the Superlibido.”
His work has been exhibited in gallery shows in the artist’s native Baltimore, New York City, Michigan, Los Angeles and San Diego. It has been featured in magazines such as DC/Vertigo Comics, Rap Pages and Taboo and on CD covers for bands that include The Dwarves, Radical Noise, Jakkpot, Iron Boss, Fury of Five, Daybreak, Thrall and numerous others.