Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, January 18, 2019

Exhibit Review: “Gods of War!” at Katzen

Phyllis Plattner combines art, history and culture for social criticism

Exhibit Review: “Gods of War!” at Katzen

Phyllis Plattner takes classic art and combines it with modern day images in her exhibit “Gods of War!” on display at the Katzen Arts Museum. Her paintings create an uneasy juxtaposition of classic images of war and religion with modern day fighting. The art is striking, symbolic and sometimes odd as she clearly uses the mixing of art as social commentary.

All of the pieces are framed in what looks like classic Islamic art, like something you would find in an ancient mosque. Many of the photos she uses are her renderings of photographs that have become symbolic images of the conflict in the Middle East, the Vietnam War and modern revolutions and uprisings.

In one piece, “Chronicles of War, Pieta,” she uses Michelangelo’s “Pieta” as the center piece, and surrounds her with images of parents and soldiers holding their deceased loved ones.

In another piece, “Chronicles of War: Faces,” Plattner brings together art from various cultures and times in history (the American Revolutionary War, ancient Japanese artwork and Renaissance art) to create a visually interesting comparison of each culture’s versions of war and peace.

Without a critical eye, Plattner’s exhibit might seem like an odd and confusing plethora of images that she took from other artists. However, it is clear that her intention was to use images we are already familiar with to create the dichotomy between war and peace, ancient and modern. She provokes her audience to consider their biases of other cultures when it comes to war and conflict, almost blatantly calling out acts of war as savage acts against humanity.

This striking and thoughtful exhibit should not be missed. The mixture of past and present images make for a striking exhibit that is sure to provoke its visitors to think about the state of war.

@emilykbader -

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