Chris Bergeron, Daily News, Boston, MA
"Brian Alterio changes direction dramatically in a companion exhibit in the Atelier Gallery at the Griffin Museum of Photography. After a 30-year hiatus from photography, he has made a brilliant comeback with "Human Nature,'' a lovely exhibition that juxtaposes black-and-white images of the human figure with flowers and plants that share structural similarities. A successful photographer in England in the 1970s, Alterio moved to the U.S. in 1979, spending three decades at the forefront of the digital technology movement. At first, visitors might not notice that a delicate image of a lily's twisted petals is displayed next to a finely-detailed photo of the intertwined fingers of two hands. Look again at the words in the title – "human'' and "nature'' – and everything pops into focus.
A photo that captures the composed muscular tension of a female nude slightly bending at her waist hangs next to an image of the interwoven roots of a banyan tree. Describing the show, Tognarelli wrote Alterio's "years spent as a digital scientist coupled with his poetic soul'' helped him create a visual narrative "about beauty in living objects.'' "There is an elegance and grace to how a flower shares a gesture with the human body,'' she said. It's far more than an artsy gimmick. Fusing botany and physiology, Alterio seems to have captured in images of startling elegance the laws of form infusing organic life.
After his long absence from photography, Alterio wrote he began a series of floral images in 2011 when he "observed the slow magnificent blooming of an amaryllis.'' He has said witnessing a flower's "changes as it declines,'' evokes parallel changes in humans that remind him of "of the inevitability of life, decline and mortality itself. ''While initially drawn to the contrast of the pale petals against an "accidentally dark background,'' he came to find the "coincidences of the human form and lines in space played against the floral images infinitely compelling''.
"Viewers will be similarly moved."
Elin Spring, Editor: Photo Blog "What you will Remember!"
"Human Nature, the portfolio of work by Brian Alterio in the Atelier Gallery in the Griffin Museum is comprised of floral still lives and human figure studies, but is meant as a conceptual landscape of the life cycle. Alterio has created careful considerations of close-up, dramatically lit forms against diffuse and sometimes contrasting backgrounds that serve as contemplative refrains on the parallels of life and death in plants and people.
I found it interesting that the sharp focus and detail in his flowers were met with charitably soft focus in his human figures; perhaps the re-texturizing of skin was intended to emphasize the similarity between floral and human shape and line. Taken singularly, Alterio’s prints are beautifully rendered B&W images, but when his aesthetic floral studies mirror the shapes of his equally sensuous figure compositions, they are presented side-by-side to even greater effect."
Mark Feeney, Boston Globe
"The photographs in Brian Alterio's "Human Nature" focus on the visual congruence of floral forms and the human anatomy. They declare the superiority of curve to angle. Portrait-like images of lilies, peonies, and amaryllises alternate with up-close views of hands and torsos. The results are sedately voluptuous. It's a hothouse vision, but one with restraint. The hothouse, you might say, has louvers."
Serpentine Gallery Exhibition: Hyde Park, London
"The photographs of Brian Alterio touch me. They are precise, unequivocal, monumental documents. Segments of a personal past, they are extracts from that hazy passage called reality. And yet, for all their clarity, all their unmistakable and splendid detail, at heart they are a paradox. At once they proclaim the tangible, confirm all our hopes for photography as a witness to time past, revel in their allusions to the world while, in the same breath almost, denying it completely.
This, I suspect, is their strength. With an unusual deftness they question the reality they purport to contain, and in doing so make me question it as well. An invitation to the willing suspension of disbelief is offered with these images. As we are confronted with the visual absurdity of three dimensions reduced to two, we are presented with an alternative to the expected notion of spatial reality – the very surface of the print itself. This is the only real reality of these images no matter how much realism they might seem to contain. Brian knows this, playing on it and with it like a dancer. Point counterpoint, dynamism and stillness.
Another call goes with them: It is not simply how they are but what they are which intrigues him…and me. Consider, for example, Print #30 [ Woodstock], with it’s economy of content and apparent literalness it is a perfect introduction to these images. A ladder, a wall and a airplane neatly juxtaposed in planar perfection. Climb the ladder and peer over the wall; on the other side is a footpath leading to another photograph, and another, and another. Do it quickly though, Fox Talbot is about to enter the scene and barrow the ladder. And please mind your head on the sky.
Brian Alterio shares an essential with some of the best of photography’s artists: he knows which way to point his camera. I find myself irresistibly pointed in the same direction."
The late Peter Turner, Editor, Creative Camera Magazine, London