Roberto Fernandez’s little gem of a photo show, “De Viento y Nube,” is small, smart, and perfectly crafted.
Immediately surprising for many undergraduates will be the space in which it is shown, the cozy downstairs living room of the Casa Cultural Center on Crown street — which some may remember as the site of a drunken grope (or two) at the LGBT dance last year.
It has been converted, quite handsomely, into a gallery as convincing and professional as anything in New Haven. It is a white, clean, pleasing space.
The show, which in English can be translated to “Of Wind and Clouds,” consists of around two dozen photographs, each accompanied by a haiku in Spanish.
Fernandez’s photos are milky-gray meditations on the nature of narcissism and reflection. Poems aside, he builds a haunting narrative in images and gestures, moving from pictures of airy dread into something more focused.
The exhibition begins with a series of photos where humans are conspicously absent. We see a grasping shadow of a hand and a vague outline of a bust, followed by a boy playing in the sea — achingly alone with the waves — and finally to a woman shaking out a rug or shawl.
There are moments of silent humor, too. A broken pottery dish on a lawn looks, coincidentally, like the man in the moon and water looks like impermanent calligraphy.
The star of the show is half dreaminess — and willingness to take itself seriously — and half Fernandez’s technical mastery and attention to detail.
He uses everything in his arsenal. Developing chemicals are as much a tool for him as dark-room focusers or the camera itself. He lets images bleed into themselves and gives others sharp detail.
Even the frames are perfect, gauzy clouds. If we are meant to be carried around the room on a gentle gust of wind, he succeeds.
In lesser hands, the show might have been a joke. Put into practice, a haiku dreamscape could easily have become a campy throw-away, but Fernandez succeeds precisely because he is willing to take the idea seriously.
“De Viento y Nube” is small, sweet and more than worth 15 minutes on a rainy afternoon.