According to the artist Richard Finkelstein, diorama building brings with it certain hazards. Aside from the potential disasters that can come with those tiny jars of Testor's hobby paint, the major time-wastage involved in trolling online offerings of Preiser and Arttista miniature figures, and the brain-twisting specifics of scales and gauges, there's a track record, if you will, of going off the deep end into an alternate, Lilliputian universe, one dominated, Finkelstein says, by "demented model-train addicts."
But Finkelstein, a former trial lawyer, has maintained a firm grip on his rationality, and his striking photographic images—of elaborately constructed tableaux that ingeniously incorporate ready-made elements you might find at a hobby shop—hum with precision, not to mention the kind of luscious, slightly bruised palette you might find in an Edward Hopper painting. His debut show at New York's Robert Mann Gallery, "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes" (May 16-June 29), comprises a dozen or so photographs of these tiny worlds, some printed at colossal size. Each one—whether of a solitary figure throwing an impossibly long shadow on a sidewalk or of an intricately brocaded interior—is like a still from half-remembered movie, and their unabashed artificiality never fails to suggest something achingly real.
Read the article and view the slideshow online here.