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New York

Wallspace Gallery

Exhibition Detail
PHASES
Curated by: Kelly Taxter
619 W. 27th St.
New York, NY 10001


January 13th, 2012 - February 11th, 2012
 
Installation View, Installation View
© Courtesy of Wallspace Gallery
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Phases is a group show co-curated by Kelly Taxter and Wallspace, who have
brought together artworks by Thea Djordjadze, Anthea Hamilton, Sanya
Kantarovsky, Alex Kwartler, Hugh Scott-Douglas, Daniel Sinsel and Lisa
Williamson. These artists represent a wide range of approaches to be
thought of as points along a line, the origin of which is formalism and
whose terminus is narrative figuration. Simultaneously exhibiting such
extremes and what lies between, reveals an over-arching commonality these
artists share in their search to define and undermine form, a kind of
cyclical deconstructivism that allows a study in material and line to share
critical and physical space with the insinuation of narrative. Phases seeks
to intuitively navigate how one can leap from one stone to the next, and in
so doing, hope to understand the water beneath.
Georgian born, Berlin-based artist Thea Djordjadze’s His Vanity Requires No
Response, 2011, is a sprawling floor-bound sculpture made during her
residency at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in early 2011. Working
in a typical mode she fashioned plaster, wire, and burlap, together with
materials sourced from local architectural salvage yards, to construct a
low-lying, theatrical arrangement of objects and elements that appear at
once coming together and falling apart. Four sculptural forms, which split
the difference between formalism and surrealism, seem to be in a
confrontational dialog, set apart from each other across overlapped sections
of degraded carpet. As in her work at large, in this piece Djordjadze uses
an historical touchstone, marking T.S. Eliot’s epic poem The Wasteland as a
place from which to explore notions of time, abstraction, and decay within
the temporal present. In this sense her work operates within the realm of
nostalgia, it lies between then and now, speaking subtly of narratives that
feel on the tip of one’s tongue but are never entirely illuminated.
London-based Anthea Hamilton includes a new work titled Leg Chair (Sorry I’m
Late), 2011. This frontally oriented sculpture features her signature
cutout leg motif, the limbs arranged in a plié formation centered around a
Plexiglas, brass-hinged butterfly frame atop a piston-like cylindrical
form. Clearly evocative of the lower half of the female body, the legs
themselves modeled after the artist’s own, Leg Chair oscillates between
being an overtly sexual and purely formal investigation of objects. The
artist notes that positioning the artwork thus forces the viewer to be both
a salacious co-conspirator and a prudish observer. The hinge that separates
the spread legs acts as a symbol of Hamilton’s ability to imbue her work
with a series of potentialities: the work’s construction evokes movement as
much as it’s elements represent contrasting narrative points. Hamilton’s
apologetic title demurs her choice of both/and; rather than fix her work,
she demands that much like the body itself, it remains both rigid and
mutable.
Russian born, Los Angeles-based artist Sanya Kantarovsky's richly hued yet
muted paintings in blues, grays, and greens draw upon both personal and
collective experience, and suggest fragments of history, memory, and
narrative. Kantarovksy’s paintings frequently embrace a cartoon-like
efficiency in portraying the affect of a human figure, framing
representation within formal devices that point back to the site of the
objects own making. Combing a wide range of influences that range from the
"high" culture of art and literature to the "low" of cartoons, animation and
design, the artist probes discrepancies between the divergent art histories
of Eastern Europe and the West. Empty pages, vacated modernist buildings,
feathers, melodramatic, lonely figures and mannered expressive marks teeter
on the edge of banality yet create a distinct language - a system of puns
and allegories to the dilemmas of the creative process. Through these signs
and art historical cues, the artist touches upon the uncertain meanings of
beauty, history and the author's den itself, complete with an un-inked
feather and a blank page.
New York-based Alex Kwartler has recently begun work on a series of largescale,
plaster paintings on plywood, evidencing a distinct move away from
the diminutive, meticulous, and long-labored paintings he is well known
for. The size of the new pieces is dictated by the standard construction
plywood sheets they’re made upon. Similarly, the pigment-tinted plaster the
artist brushes on the surface occurs via a process entirely dominated by the
material's characteristics, which force Kwartler to work quickly and
disallows revisions of any kind. The finished pieces have the glossy
surface of burnished plaster, with gradient hues of green, purple, and red,
floating upon a softly grey, unifying background. The marks are direct
representations of brush, material, time and surface itself. While the
paintings yield to the viewer in unexpected ways and at different speeds
they return back to its elements: material, tool, surface, mark, color and
space. One cannot escape a deeper investigation into the mechanics of the
medium when confronted with these paintings.
Toronto-based Hugh Scott-Douglas' creates painterly effects through nonpainterly
means, while also undermining many tenets of the medium by
exposing his paintings to chance conditions and mechanized processes. In
Scott-Douglas’ words “I have begun exploring the fraught relationship
between image ground and material support, while simultaneously engaging
questions of authorship, production, reception and display. At once visually
alluring and materially specific, these works ultimately unfold as an openended
system that always gestures towards new iterations.” The works on view
are made using an industrial laser cutter that translates photographs of his
previous works into an algorithm cut directly into gessoed linen.
German born, London-based artist Daniel Sinsel's intimate, handcrafted
paintings and sculptures explore classical themes of space, perspective and
trompe l’oeil, using a range of traditional techniques and materials from
casein to raw silk to fired terracotta. In the works included in Phases,
Sinsel blends minimalist forms with his own personal iconography to create
subtly suggestive works that point backwards toward the intricate process of
their making, even as they maintain an ineffable, near-iconic presence.
Grids, columns and linen weft appear as recurring motifs in Sinsel’s work,
yet these substrates are rendered with such painstaking, almost meditative
attention that the forms seem sublimely transmogrified – the eroticized
materials competing with the sometimes repressed or otherwise articulated
eroticism of his subjects.
Los Angeles-based artist Lisa Williamson’s works quietly assert themselves
in the space between the painted and sculpted form. Using materials such as
steel painted with such lushness that it approximates rubber, or folded into
a paper-like accordion, Williamson’s objects are imbued with a whimsical
theatricality, seeming to allude to a story at the same time as they draw
attention back to the details of their making. For Phases, Williamson has
contributed A Highly Articulate Step, 2011, a wall-mounted sculpture that
unfurls from a pair of over-sized chopsticks – as though holding a woman’s
bun in place - and cascades over an armature and onto the floor, stretching
out into the gallery like an elongated tongue. The unfurling canvas is
painted with a lexicon of self-generative pictographs, with one image
generating the next like a run-on sentence. Williamson’s deceptively
elegant work gets its heft from the comingling of linguistic,
anthropomorphic and formal elements, where one thing seems always on the
verge of becoming another.


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