The Globe and Mail
Critic’s Choice: Luis Mallo at Stephen Bulger
Toronto, 2000

Cuban-born photographer Luis Mallo, now based in Brooklyn, has worked until recently in black-and-white. His current exhibition, Laminas (“layers” in Spanish) is his first foray into colour. It was a sensible decision. It’s impossible to imagine how these curious, evanescent photographs of stained glass windows glimpsed through the gridded metal screens that proetct them (all of the photos were taken in New York) could have made any sense at all without colour as a guide. Some of the works privilege the grid over the image behind it. In the powerful No. 22, for example, rusty metal screening fills the entire photograph, reducing the image of the saintly background figure to a sort of apparition – as tenuous and imprecise as the image of Christ in the shroud of Turin. Here colour, defeated by structure, is redundant. But for the most part, the stained-glass Madonnas and infant Christs, the saints and angels that bloom like persistent, perpetual flowers within the colour glass – so vulnerable, despite the wire grids, to cracks and shatterings – are revivified by their own colour. And the rugged persistence of these soft, hallowed images is sort of heartening – specially at Christmas, when religious ideas continue somehow to struggle against a tide of base thingness.

Luis Mallo  
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