A surreal place and moment, captured in each artwork, transports you as you explore Bokeh Gallery at the monOrchid. Currently on view is a captivating selection of 13 artworks by seasoned Tucson based artist Aaron Thomas Roth. At first glimpse the gallery is filled with what appear to be weathered, otherworldly photographs, but upon closer examination will discover fascinating collages, which incorporate photography, heat transfer, and watercolor paper. Most recently viewers may have seen his work at the 2013 Tucson Museum of Art Biennial or the recent group exhibition “Swedish Fish” at the monOrchid. Mr. Roth holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Illustration after which he spent the early portion of his career in New York, where he discovered his love of collage, leading to his current body of work. His work is simply riveting and his process in which he creates will intrigue viewers.
When we spoke about the inspiration behind his current solo exhibition “Between Heaven and Earth” Roth stated, “I wanted to capture that split instant that shows a figure’s movement toward a moment of change, whether it’s a physical, mental or emotional change, to evoke an unsettling feeling for the participant and to let them judge the outcome.” Collage is definitely the focus his work, but in addition he also incorporates his own photography. Discussing collage further with Roth, he mentioned that his ultimate attraction to it was “the mechanics of cutting out photos and arranging them to create a completely unique image really appealed to me.” Roth says “I literally melt the images onto hot or cold press watercolor paper, embedding the images into the foundation of the paper, adding solvents or paints until I achieve the desired effect, texture, and colors.” When Roth discovered heat transfer it provided his work with the finished quality he desired, saying “using the transfer papers and melting the images onto watercolor paper gave me that “finished” almost printed final result that I was searching for.”
The images are surprising and a bit unsettling due to the suspension of the bodies, their nude state, and blurred faces. Roth said he “wanted to show figures that are displayed in a limbo of sorts…trapped between the planes of heaven and earth.” This is evident in the piece titled “The Falling” where the figure is suspended in space and time conveying a moment in which the past and future remains a mystery. The artist also encourages his audience to participate in the story of each work, determine the figure’s fate, as well as introspection from the viewer to pause and contemplate their own actions, and the resulting future. Choosing subjects or imagery for his work is very important to Roth, stating “the imagery for the subject matter of my work comes to me when I least expect it, I’m constantly on the lookout for that perfectly uncomfortable static pose, after that everything else seems to fall into place.” However, the images are not violent, rather they are beautiful in their simplicity, such as with the piece titled “Dog Number 1”, depicting a dog standing and barking with a halo above his head.
Aaron Thomas Roth takes photography to a whole new dimension, creating beautiful works of art with heat transfer collages melted onto watercolor paper. Take time to explore and contemplate as you meander through the intimate space of Bokeh Gallery reflecting upon this fascinating body of work. “Between Heaven and Earth” is a stunning collection of work, thought provoking, and one will definitely walk away with a new appreciation for collage. Head down to the monOrchid for Third Friday, December 20th from 6-pm-9pm, including refreshments, music provided by The Upperstrata from 7pm-9pm, and meet the artist. Exhibition runs until January 1st, 2014. Next up he will be exhibiting his work as part of a 3-person exhibition at The Dragonfly Gallery in Tucson, which opens January 11, 2014.