an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

Chris Engman – working for a living

Chris Engman‘s photos are evidence of his interventions. Using the deserts of Eastern Washington as stage sets, he constructs material plays about his process. Six barrels become a triangle, the red always in the middle bottom and the other colors rotating. He shoots a photo, rearranges the barrels and shoots again. Time passes in the sky, which shades from blue to mottled dark to white.

Archival inkjet print
52 x 44 inches
Edition of 6
chrisengmanbarrels.jpgTitled Dust to Dust, the exhibit at Greg Kucera Gallery is overhung, which is a problem for an artist whose strategizing can devolve into the aridly clever. These photos need more space than they get. Like crabs in a barrel, however, the ones on top manage to hook a claw over the edge and climb out.

In Equivalence, a grid of empty frames becomes a rickety kind of Coptic cross. The top beam and arms are filled with photos of the sky, rephotographed. In the final print the sky is clear except for clouds in the cross. It’s a trick, but I like that it’s not a good trick. The structure is already falling apart, and the paper on which the clouds appear is visible on the left. His title is a nod to Alfred Stieglitz, whose series of the same name attempted to find in ordinary skies an alienating  distance verging on abstraction.

Inkjet print
38 x 48 inches
Edition of 6

chrisengmanclouds.jpgAbandoned Crates needs no back story. Into a verdant harmony, what is made by humans floats on a lake. The photo is an immaculate version of the messy masterpiece, Aguirre, the Wrath of God. (There’s meat floating by…) Vanity, vanity; all is vanity.

Archival inkjet print
40 x 49 inches
Edition of 6

chrisengmancrates.jpgThrough Dec. 24.


  1. “Overhung”-
    what a concept, one that illustrates the unbridgeable divide between critic and artist oh so well.
    Me, I strive for overhung, in a completely non-double-entendre way, every day of my life.
    All of my favorite artists made overhung a divine goal to aim for- Dali, in his museum in Figueras, James Hampton and his Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations, Lucas Samaras, Jean Tinguely, Mario Merz, Barry McGee, Kenny Scharf, and many more adherents of the philosopy best expressed by Miami Hotel Designer Morris Lapidus-
    “Too Much is Never Enough”…

  2. This show is simply stunning, smart and well crafted, a knockout in these cold dark winter times! Well done Chris!

Leave a Reply

an ArtsJournal blog