The dramatic, glossy black shapes in James Welling’s “Gelatin
Photographs” look like coal or tar or chunks of
primordial ooze. Both solid looking and fleshy in appearance, they are laid out across a plain white surface and look like an abstract painting. In reality, they are made of Jell-O, dyed black with ink. These mysterious images appear in Welling’s current retrospective at
the Hammer Museum. On view through Jan. 12, it surveys 35 years of
photographic work in which nothing is ever just Jell-O.