ANDREW RAFACZ completes the 2011 season with Periodic Split, a series of new and recent mobiles and sculpture by Beth Campbell. This is the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery and in Chicago. It also marks the beginning of an ongoing collaboration with Los Angeles-based gallery COUNTRY CLUB, we have partnered with to present many of its long-represented artists in Chicago. It continues through Saturday, January 21, 2011.
Reverent to a familiar history of art and design in which the mobile is ever-present, Campbell’s constructions nevertheless feel contemporary, occupying space in a way that is both meditative and ominous. They relate to twentieth century modernist art and design in their prioritization of elemental shape and form and their relationship to space, but they also operate as part of Campbell’s drawing practice, which references willfulness and the human decision-making process in the often over-stimulating, easily distracting contemporary world we live in. They become a physical articulation of a life engaged--- never linear, faced with possibility, but loaded with many potential results and consequences. As seemingly fragile objects, their incandescence is beguiling as the lightness of the structure gives way to a series of very serious metaphysical and ontological implications.
In her recent sculpture and installations, Campbell has been interested in the visual and philosophical possibilities of iteration, manifested literally in the mirroring and doubling of ordinary objects and environments, rendering them anything but banal. With Stereotable (2010) the quotidian notion of a dining table and chairs complete with vases, candles and evidence of the people seated at it (scarves and pens) is repeated and ultimately disrupted. The final piece is several tables (and its objects) in one that intersect with each other and appear to operate on different planes. The effect is to have this ordinary object and its setting existing in several dimensions at once. Like Campbell’s mobiles, the viewer is simultaneously calmed by a seemingly familiar scene and jarred by its reposition as something wholly other.
Table Parallax (2010), exhibited here for the first time, reflects similar strategies. A medium sized wooden kitchen table’s top (its primary and perfunctory identity) is covered by bended wire shapes and thus, immobilized. It no longer works as a table, practically or aesthetically, but becomes the base for another sculpture (very similar to the mobile constructions) that oddly mirrors the base itself. It’s as if two very different kinds of tabletops have been attached to each other, calling both ends into question with each other. Just as the wire sculpture seems like a practical extension of the table, the table base is no longer merely functional.
BETH CAMPBELL (American, b. 1971) lives and works in New York. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011, a residency at Kohler Arts Center in 2010, and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Fellowship in 2009. Campbell was very recently included in Speculative Futures, curated by Regine Basha at the Bloomberg Financial Offices, in conjunction with the Sculpture Center, NY. Her solo project Following Room opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2007. She has had solo exhibitions with Country Club in Los Angeles and Nicole Klagsbrun in New York, as well as numerous group exhibitions throughout the world. This is her first exhibition in Chicago and first with the gallery. She is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, MOMA, New Museum, and Bloomberg, as well as many private collections.