The title of Amir Zaki's absorbing show at ACME, "Seeking Clarity," ought to come with an asterisk and the aside, "But Also Intentionally Subverting It."
The L.A.-based photographer presents two bodies of work here, and one of them gives the show's title an ironic twist.
The "Sliver" series features images of the ocean, closing in on turbulent wave activity. By leaving out the horizon line and digitally compacting the pictures, Zaki amplifies the unfamiliar within the familiar. Scale and texture become ambiguous. One of the large, immersive prints (75 x 60 inches) reads like a micro-photograph of wriggling cilia. Another conjures a pitted scholar's rock that itself evokes a mountain range. In others, the water mimics slick obsidian or lush fur. The conceit is not terribly complex, but it yields images of irresistible mystery.
In the second group of work here, Zaki does opt for clarity, shooting palm tree seed pods as isolated sculptural forms hanging by a rope against a bare wall. The taxonomic cataloguing of variants on a single theme harks back to his previous series centering on trees and lifeguard towers, and further, to the influence of Karl Blossfeldt and the Bechers.
Zaki focuses again on the familiar, and tightening his gaze, lets outrageous beauty speak for itself.
ACME, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 857-5942, through Feb. 7. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.acmelosangeles.com