Every once in a while I make a special discovery which I am keen to share with my friend and the larger GFS community. Sometimes it is a book or a film which I can’t stop thinking about. Sometimes it is a new city you must see. Once in a great while it’s an artist who I have discovered who I am keen to turn on all you wonderful people out there on to.
In this case, it is a remarkable young artist by the name of Loreal Prystaj. I had the good fortune of meeting Loreal last winter at—where else?—a gallery opening and, I am pleased to say, we have become good friends.
First, a few words about Loreal’s work—or, rather, works.
The thing is, Loreal has several discrete, overlapping talents.
First, Loreal who graduated from FIT three years ago with a BFA in photography, is a prodigiously talented and photographer, with an uncanny sense of composition and narrative, and a unique, quasi-surrealistic sensibility. Her principal motif is her body, which she employs/elevates/deploys/pinions in a wide—and I mean wide–range of interiors and exteriors and fixtures.
Yes, fixtures. Her best known and most elaborate series, Body in Bathworks, which she recently exhibited at the Public Factory at the Grand Hotel in Soho, involves her posing or “acting” out various self-invented characters in an array of bathtubs, covered and/or floating in all manner of material, including leaves, straws, dvds (yes, dvds), dolls’ heads, so that the whole, including the surrounding walls, which are also covered with material, form “prisms” through which to glimpse the various states of her kaleidoscopic mind. Dive in for yourself at www.lorealprystaj.tumblr.com.
Although most of her body-based (so to speak) work is realistic (as it were), Loreal can also “do” abstract, as seen in the Zen-flavored, suprematist-like series of black and white images she created during her residency last year at the Yamaguchi Art Village in Yamaguchi, Japan, which work both as standalone images as well as a compartmentalized whole. To wit: http://www.lorealprystaj.com/Yume.html.
In addition to being a dazzlingly creative and versatile photographer, this proud Rochester native is also a gifted videographer.
Her video forte is stop action videos, which feature both herself, morphing from virginal to vixen and back, as in Concealed Beauty https://vimeo.com/87209624#t=0s and Barbie dolls, who she photographs in a variety of elegant dolls’ dresses. I am particularly fond of Mistress of the Knickknacks, in which the starring, elegantly attired doll, swirls and sashays through a “garden” of doll limbs, miniature mirrors, carriages, revolving gear wheels and lots of other disjecta membra (stuff to you). Sound a little verrukt? (That’s German for nuts.)
It’s also enchanting. Cross Audrey Flack with Joseph Cornell, add a soupcon (actually, maybe a spoonful) of humor and you get the picture. Here, take a walk on the wild side with the chic little lady yourself: https://vimeo.com/141993684. And you thought you knew Barbie!
Then there’s Little Boxes, a “split personality” video with nine compartments each of which contains Loreal—is that Loreal?—presenting different personas, from dunce to princess to wallflower to mime to clown and more, each looking down/up/sideways at her “neighbor,” before fading one by one into black. Think “Sybil” (Cindy Sherman on nitrous oxide?) in boxes. Experience it here: https://vimeo.com/114872844#t=0s.
As you can see here (as well as in Concealed Beauty), Loreal is also a gifted—and hilarious– performer who could easily have a career as a comic actress.
Photographer, videographer, performer, Loreal, who already has produced a sizable body of work—excuse me, works—is a true artistic triple threat.
I have been trying to think of an apt metaphor for Loreal’s kaleidoscopic oeuvre/oeuvres (you see, the kid’s already gotten me thinking up metaphors for her), and the one I keep coming back to are the honeycombed paintings of William van Haecht, the 17th century Dutch artist which depict rooms filled with paintings, each depicting a separate reality.
Although she doesn’t use paint—except when she paints herself!—Loreal’s work reminds me of van Haecht: it has compartments. And some of those compartments also have compartments!
And she is all of 25. And on top of all this, Loreal also happens to be a nice person. Have you ever heard of a nice artist? Sounds like an oxymoron. But in Loreal’s case it isn’t.
Anyway, now that I have discovered Loreal, it’s time for you to discover her too! I don’t know what planet Loreal comes from, but I am glad she found us—and vice versa. Her site is www.lorealprystaj.com/home.