Memoria Eidética


April 29-May 27, 2023 • 11:00AM-5:00PM daily • Free

The Allegany Arts Council and its Saville and Schwab Galleries are excited to welcome California-based artist, Charles Anselmo, for a solo exhibition featuring works in both galleries April 29-May 27, 2023.






About the Artist

Working exclusively with photographic film, Charles Anselmo's large scale prints on translucent Habotai silk reveal his take on industrial complexes, urban spaces, Cuba, post-Katrina New Orleans and the derelict military bases of California. He captures the urban landscape in moments of elemental decline, depicting the city as a living entity that is suspended in social memory. The structures found in his portfolios began with the idealities of purpose, later to be broken down over time and transformed under the weight of history to become “phenomena,” the sensory representations and remnants of everyday life.

A veteran of seventy-one photographic trips to Cuba since 2000, Anselmo has widely exhibited his Havana portfolios while visually capturing the city’s unique historical/architectural narrative. He actively exhibits his photographs internationally, curates United States exhibits of work by established Cuban film photographers and operates a fine art digital printing studio. In addition to conducting many photography field workshops to Cuba, he has also been Visiting Lecturer at two Cuban schools: the Havana School of Creative Photography, and the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Art, Cuba’s oldest art school.

Anselmo has presented numerous exhibits on social themes, exhibiting at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Fototeca Nacional de Cuba, the University of Havana and numerous other venues and museums. He lectures and write critical essays, while continuing his exploration of sites which demonstrate the nascent beauty of forgotten places.

Artist Statement

Within the fabric of populous urban environments there persist abandoned structures which exist tenuously as inconvenient symbols of an earlier time, and which prompt complex questions concerning design, intention, social motivation and waste. These silent architectural icons are bestrewn with the uncertainties of the past, effectively deconstructing the human-made environment as a place of permanence; strange dissonances ultimately tend to coalesce within the complexity of these urban landscapes.

Discreetly suggesting a visual compression of time, memory, and the past, the artifacts in my photographs represent a rich and compelling archaeology of loss. The images address issues of transition and history, but they are also concerned with the role of the human witness in environments that have come to reveal the metaphorical richness disclosed with a hidden world of remnants. Articulating their own visually inherent narratives, these disparate, fragmented realities remain connected to their original identities.

The architectural ghosts within this theme have led me to explore not only the uniquely dualistic status of urban visual culture, but also the insistently human presence which tends to prevail at derelict sites as they offer scenes saturated with disquieting contradictions. Images of peaceful disconnection are nonetheless instilled with a pervasive sense of human activity and grand design, but also reveal a textured, deconstructed landscape of historical fragments and skeletal details that reference the way in which memory changes perception as we reconsider the past.

My images are formally linked by the many visual elements and textures of broken structure and interiors, but ultimately this work is more explicitly concerned with the intersection of place, memory and social context. Working exclusively with medium and large format film, my portfolios embrace an attempt to combine aesthetic forms with social histories as a way of interpreting the past, photographically captured in the warm palette of decay.

A Public Opening will take place on Saturday, April 29, 2023, from 6:00PM-8:00PM.  The public is invited to attend and refreshments will be served.

Anselmo will also conduct an artist talk, "Memory, Social Context and the Photographic Image," on Sunday, April 30. Details can be found here.


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