Pagan Ceremonies and Vintage Vacation Photos Converge at LA’s Kopeikin Gallery

Kirsten Tradowsky, Woman in Gold Car, 2018, Oil on Canvas 28″ x 32″


Photography has long served as a glimpse into our everyday realities: vacations, family portraits, a celebration, or a simple moment in time. With its ever-growing presence in our lives (Thank you, Instagram?), the idea of gazing at another photo shoot or old snapshot of someone we’ve never met can feel almost numbing, another image in the never-ending scroll.

So it was particularly refreshing to find three artists’ work on display in LA’s Kopeikin Gallery that is collectively reinterpreting the medium with new vigor.

Painter Kirsten Tradowsky gives vintage, found photographs an entirely new storyline as oil paintings in her new series, fittingly titled Time Echo. The subjects of the once grainy, muted prints – women in front of old cars, children on tricycles, a pool party on a hot day – take on a deeper sense of anonymity with each stroke. Races, faces, and other elements are blurred into a new reality.


Kirsten Tradowsky, Afternoon, 2018, Oil on Canvs 30″ x 40″


The 47 on display are the result of a year-long collaboration between gallery owner Paul Kopeikin and Tradowsky. Upon seeing her work, he asked her to paint some photographs from his own collection.

“Paul would send her photos or she had her own, and then she would paint from those vernacular photographs,” says Nicole Kutz, Kopeikin’s gallery manager, who says there are more of her paintings from the series in storage.

Also on display is Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick’s Madame Lulu’s Book of Fate. Conversely, this exhibit draws us immediately into an alternative universe through real photographs – whimsical depictions of characters caught mid-act.

“The whole idea was to collaborate and create and have different performances and ideas of fun and mysticism,” Kutz explains. “Even though they’re constructed or staged, it still feels like a genuine moment.”


Kahn & Selesnick, The Proposal, 2018


Witches, jesters, and dandies participate in pagan ceremonies. In one photo, we see two young men pushing a boat against rough waters; in another, a man stands quietly in front of the camera, a mask of flowers covering his face. The circular centerpiece and stark white borders make us feel almost as if we’re peering through the viewfinder. (Remember those?)

We may have easy access to myriad imagery these days with our always-on social feeds. However, seeing it on walls, undistracted from the counting of likes or digital buzz, reminds us that it’s still possible for photography to engage us in a much deeper way. 

Both exhibits will be up until July 7.


Kahn & Selesnick, R&D, 2018
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