When supervillain Auric Goldfinger ordered glamorous card-shark Jill Masterson to be painted head to toe in his beloved gilded hue then deposited in James Bond’s rumpled mattress in 1964’s superlative 007 film, murder and intimidation ended up the purpose. The paint was claimed, fictionally, to have triggered the beauty’s loss of life by pores and skin asphyxiation.

Painted bodies really do not have the very same nefarious result at the Pageant of the Masters. Maybe which is mainly because make-up rather than polyurethane acrylic does the yearly position at the famed Laguna Beach summer season festival of tableaux vivant. For the 2016 edition, however, a gilded girl was again the victim of barbarians — this time from the epic Ludovico Ariosto poem “Orlando Furioso,” fan-favored throughout the Italian Renaissance

The pretty Angelica — stripped bare, chained to a rock for the dining delight of a huge sea monster and daringly rescued by Roger, a valiant knight — was also a well known topic in 19th century France. All through a floundering epoch of put up-revolutionary destabilization, the French were mad for arranging guidelines drawn from heritage and myth.

The Pageant selected Angelica’s florid representation from an 1840s bronze by sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye. She escapes across the sea in Roger’s protective arms, riding on the back again of a galloping winged-horse held aloft by a coiling dolphin.

Matthew Rolston, “Barye, Roger and Angelica (Angelica),” 2016, photograph


Celeb photographer Matthew Rolston, recognized for lush portraits of actors and musicians, took a unique approach in “Art Persons,” his exhibition of 2016 Pageant photographs at this time at the Laguna Art Museum. Cinematic melodrama and sculptural romanticism are nowhere to be viewed in his photograph of Barye’s maiden.

Rather, “Art People” turns the exact demanding approaches of studio perform used to publicity shots of Nicki Minaj and Zac Efron and for the web pages of Rolling Stone and Vogue to nameless Laguna locals who portray figures from paintings and sculptures. The benefits are agreeably odd.

Rolston’s gilded Angelica faces ahead, human body turned to 3-quarter see and cropped just higher than the knee. Each individual inch of exposed skin is shiny gold, besides for the rims of her eyelids. So is her draped tunic and the hard, coifed cap that substitutes for soft hair, like an ice-cream cone dipped in chocolate. The blue eyes and white front teeth on a sober, unsmiling encounter are of class unpainted, the lone solutions of a living, respiratory human becoming trapped within.

The portrait could not be extra official. What is oddly powerful is that the photograph undercuts any expectation of personalized exposure, which is what we commonly anticipate a portrait to execute. Rolston posed the design, just one arm hidden driving her, with her right arm a bit bent and her hand turned to an open palm — a gesture of candidness that quietly resounds versus her actual concealment.

Right here I am. Who am I?

This is a particular person, identity unidentified, portraying an item for a tableau presented in a theater. The exhibit is the detail. The personal girl you’re hunting at remains a cryptic cipher, encased within layers of artistic and cultural distancing. Who she is seriously doesn’t matter.

When you seem at Antoine-Louis Barye’s bronze sculpture in an art museum, hardly ever does the thoughts convert to the issue of who the design was functioning in the artist’s studio posing for Angelica in the wax or plaster variety that would later be forged in enduring metal. Her existence was lived, and that was that. The sculpture, which is not a portrait, life on.

A gallery with photos of people decorated as sculptures

Matthew Rolston’s “Art People” were photographed in costume and make-up for the 2016 Pageant of the Masters

(Laguna Art Museum)

“Art People” is a weird inversion of celeb pictures, in which we casually believe we are looking at powering the public mask of a renowned performer. Rolston’s exquisitely crafted pageant pictures are all mask. Some are stunning — specially the topped and bearded figure of Neptune, Roman god of the sea.

Plucked from the base of a ponderous fountain in Paris’ Put de la Concorde, he’s a forged-iron spectacle with an odd cap of gilded foam. A windswept blue beard is clamped towards his experience, his muscled, purplish torso streaked with brush marks. The model is buff but nowhere near as bulky as the real laborious statue intended by German-born French architect Jacques Ignace Hittorff. He’s rarely a home name these days, but Rolston’s photographic fountain god elicits double-takes.

Other folks seem to be disconcertingly tatty — none additional than the 13 people in Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Very last Supper,” each year the pageant’s grand finale. Christ and his disciples, robed and bewigged, are right here a somewhat creepy and forbidding bunch, the make-up so pronounced that it’s sometimes tricky to notify the costumed sitter’s gender.

Their beards are like scrubbing brushes, their stiff, paint-daubed tunics like housepainters’ fall cloths. Absent context, hand gestures perform a supercilious pantomime.

The inspiring and the prosaic collide, the sacred indistinguishable from the profane. Leonardo’s real fresco recedes into the conceptual distance. Rolston’s pictures think a life of their personal.

One particular coincidentally revealing example is the 1966 portrait of the late Los Angeles art dealer Nicholas Wilder, painted shoulder-deep in his home’s oval swimming pool by David Hockney. Rolston presents him in two adjacent photographs — 1 the painted plaster bust that pageant designers use to guideline the nightly ritual of getting ready the forged member for the clearly show, the other the performer completely ready to go.

At right, a bust, left, a man painted like the bust

Matthew Rolston, “Hockney, Portrait of Nick Wilder (Nick Wilder),” 2016, photograph


I knew Wilder, who ran one of Los Angeles’ most critical art galleries for 14 formative decades in the city’s contemporary cultural lifetime. Looking at the technically refined, higher-resolution photos of the two mannequin and design, I was amazed at how tiny either a single resembled him. Like the Hittorff Neptune and Leonardo’s Jesus, staying in the inventive ballpark is close adequate for the pageant.

Soon after all, close scrutiny of a portray or a sculpture is not the intention of a tableau vivant. I’ve prolonged imagined of the Pageant of the Masters as currently being somewhat akin to a sporting event, where in depth education, precision workouts and repetitive exercise lead to the starting-gun instant when the curtain opens and, in a reversal of many sporting norms, the “art athletes” must stay completely still for the period of the publicity.

If that seems like the way photographs had been produced for the duration of the camera’s 19th century infancy — very well, it’s not coincidental that the tableau vivant was birthed and flourished close to the identical time. It is not just a democratizing impulse for artwork, but getting pictures and creating them had been moving into a new historic phase. Rolston’s peculiar pageant photographs start out to deliver the environment-altering saga into surprising emphasis.

‘Matthew Rolston: Art People’

Where by: Laguna Artwork Museum, 307 Cliff Generate, Laguna Seaside

When: By means of Sept. 19 shut Wednesdays

Admission: $5-$7 children 17 and young are cost-free

Facts: (949) 494-8971, www.lagunaartmuseum.org