Christopher Ganz

Focal Point

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CHRISTOPHER GANZ's large-scale charcoal drawings at The Carnegie in Covington are confluences of alter egos. His self-portrait appears everywhere — on the severed head of Goliath; on the cashier, customer and product at a discount store checkout lane; and on several business executives in a disturbingly Faustian meeting.

In THE PROBE, Ganz draws himself stretched out on a surgical table, surrounded by five figures, each also a self-portrait. One figure pokes and prods at the patient's forehead while the others observe, carefully considering the body before them.

Ganz, assistant professor of printmaking and foundations at Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Ind., says he sees himself almost as a still-life object that he can place in various poses and scenarios. "The Probe" is about the need to observe one's self from the outside. It relates to the process of making art, especially that of the self-portrait, in which the artist becomes both subject and viewer.

You can see the influence of the old masters in many of Ganz's drawings. In particular, "The Probe" takes some influence from Rembrandt's "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp," which depicts young aspiring physicians watching a human dissection, and the 19th-century American artist Thomas Eakins' "The Gross Clinic," a portrait of a doctor performing surgery in an observation theater.

There's even an homage to Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling. The hand of the figure standing at the right points toward the reclining figure's hand, much like Michelangelo's God reaches toward Adam in a life-giving gesture.

But Ganz points out that references to other works of art are not always intentional. If one looks at art long enough, the images become ingrained in the subconscious, and that influence can sometimes appear as a surprise even to the artist himself. (Ganz's drawings, which are part of The Carnegie's March Mixed Media exhibition, are on view through April 6.)

FOCAL POINT turns a critical lens on a singular work of art. Through Focal Point we slow down, reflect on one work and provide a longer look.

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