Inside the Zlamany Studio: A Photo Essay by Robert Banat
Pictures within pictures, measure for measure. An artist bares herself to another who, in turn, exposes her working process to a critic who is caught in the act of drawing by a photographer who spies himself in a mirror. It is Robert Banat’s shoot. His friend Marie Peter-Toltz, who recently staged a solo show of paintings in Australia, is the model, soon to be #193 in the project, A Watercolor Portrait a Day, of artist Brenda Zlamany, in whose studio this drama unfolds. David Cohen, perched above the two women, is sketching artist and model and photographer. Zlamany peers through a camera lucida, to which instrument David Hockney introduced her. Peter-Toltz returns her an equally crystalline gaze. Cohen holds out his pencil and squints – adjusting the built-in view finder, so to speak – struggling to include a glimpse in the distance of Zlamany’s fast progressing commission for Yale: a group portrait of the Ivy League school’s first graduating class of female students, a picture with a telescope at its center. Looking towards and from an opposite direction, Banat catches Zlamany’s portrait of Chuck Close peeking over Cohen’s shoulder. Optics ricochet around the room. Las Meninas meets Jeff Wall meets Escher. A camera full of cameras.