Enlightened morbid reality

Tammy Salzl’s works portray the responsibilities and difficulties of modern life for children.

Tammy Salvl uses gouache and charcoal in her chillingly detailed pieces.
Tammy Salvl uses gouache and charcoal in her chillingly detailed pieces.

Enlightened in its morbid reality and drenched in satire, Tammy Salzl's tell-tales examines unique issues of morality and humanity in a series of paintings and collages.

The vivid images captured in Salzl's art portray the responsibilities and difficulties of modern life for children. Colourful settings and sweet faces contrast with brutally honest implications and grotesque metaphors.

The end result is satisfying and the grin of satire provides the necessary allegorical commentary through Salzl’s sleek gouache and charcoal work.

In one piece entitled “Swan Songs,” an innocent-looking girl stands before a beautiful swan. Blood red flowers follow an invisible breeze on and off the thick paper canvas. The scene seems tranquil if not for the large knife held intently behind the young girl’s back.

Another piece aptly named “The Cleansing” depicts a young boy reluctantly holding a bow to the head of a young deer. Rain boots on the boy and spots on the deer implies youth of both parties, but for different purposes.

The patch of grass the deer stands upon in an otherwise material room seems surreal and abstract.

The messages received by the viewer are mixed. What seems pleasant on the surface reveals itself to be grim and ugly upon second glance.

The social commentary depicting the unintended consequences of modern life is just. Perhaps the sacred innocence of children is separate from cruel industry, or perhaps the dire consequences on society should not be limited to adults.

Either way, the artist’s analysis of the suggested power relationship between society and children is interesting.

Children are often viewed as pure and holy with little reason to think otherwise. This lens is adapted to look not only at children's relationship with society, but man’s relationship with the natural world through the scope of youth.

Through her piece “Making Ready,” Salzl demonstrates intense emotional strain as a young, determined girl prepares to bury a nondescript yet fantastical two-headed cat.

“Play Date” contrasts this by portraying two giggling girls playing with dead mountain lions as if they were teddy bears.

The imagery throughout the exhibit is ultimately what affects the viewer within Salzl's narrative. Chilling detail and subvert emotion define the exhibition and carry the fantastical themes through her work.

tell-tales will be displayed in Union Gallery’s project room until Nov. 15.

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