This work is in stride with Kantor's participation in important group shows at Galeria Luisa Strina in São Paolo ("This Is Not a Void," 2008) and New York's Lombard-Freid Projects ("Image Processor," 2007) that dealt with our unstable relationship with images. It confirms that he is a photographer who just happens to use paint. I see aspects of Linda Connor's slow, large exposures here, as well as Cindy Sherman's foxes-in-the-headlights humans.
Kantor isn't hardened by academia, though he has a PhD from Harvard and teaches at California College of the Arts. The brilliant candidness in his pictures is tied to an aesthetic understanding of human desires and scientific pursuits, but also to a humanistic refusal to be neutral. If you spend enough time with his work, you start to see that it is candid in its celebration, not just in its criticism. It reminds me of the ending to poet James Wright's "A Christmas Greeting," from Shall We Gather at the River (1963), where the dead and the living ask the same questions: "Charlie, I don't know what to say to you," the poet pines to someone he might have known or just imagined, "Except Good Evening, Greetings, and Good Night, / God Bless Us Every One. Your grave is white. / What are you doing here?" (Ari Messer)