Robert Koch Gallery
what's new
current upcoming past

Combining the sensuality of painting with the veracity of the camera, Jo Whaley creates elaborate photographic tableaus about the nature of the imagination. With a background in painting and the scenic arts, she infuses her images with the illusionary world of the theater, the detail of the Baroque, and the visual dissonance of Surrealism. Her most recent series, Entomology, continues her interest in the traditional still-life genre as it is transformed by contemporary concerns. With a definiteness of line, a subtlety of form, and a brilliance and fullness of color and light, Whaley's depictions of nature are both descriptively clear and powerfully abstract.

Meditating upon the oxymoron of the "still-life" genre, Whaley's photographs capture the dissonance between the real and the artificial. Still-life, or, quite literally, "dead nature," forms the lens through which she investigates our detachment from the world and our retreat into the comforts of urbanity. The moths, butterflies and other insects she photographs are never quite more than the motley taxidermic specimens that one might find smashed and crumpled in a child's shoebox. Yet in Whaley's hands, these small and delicate objects of nature become wrapped in deep, rich and unworldly colors, and are set against an abstract background that accentuates their beauty.

Jo Whaley, born in 1953, received her B.A., M.A. and M.F.A from the University of California at Berkeley. Her solo exhibition, Natura Morta, is currently on view at the San Jose Museum through July 22. She was awarded a Visual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1994), as well as several Polaroid Corporation Artist's Grants and the San Francisco Foundation Phelan Award. Whaley has had numerous solo and group exhibitions, among them Photokina in Cologne, Germany (1992) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2000). Her work appears in several major collections in this country and abroad, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum, and the Polaroid Corporate Art Collection.

view images