Eight large, sooty, splotchy paintings strike curious poses upstairs these days—rhombuses and pentagons slide into corners, balance on point, reach the floors and ceilings of the gallery at odd angles. An equilateral triangle painting functions as a “key” to the others. The dimensions are arbitrary, perhaps, but not haphazard. Constructed as echoes and responses to the architecture of the artist's studio, they are elegantly at home in any space; the mental associations and concrete circumstances that lead their construction are in one sense totally unimportant.
A Tide commercial about stains, the artist’s dog having an accident pissing on the canvas; abstraction here is not a gesture of interiority, but mere response to comically prosaic phenomena. The liberal use of the odor-eliminating elixir Nature’s Miracle is both a practical consideration of the viewer’s olfactory senses (thank you Miss), and a wry commentary on the modern notion of artist himself as seat of genius, nature’s miracle, taking the piss out of the raw material of everyday life.
For Dodd, the Foss is a concept at once more elusive yet more practicable than “inspiration”; the ancient, mercurial creature that any number of headset-mic’d productivity gurus will tell you may be rendered perfectly tamable by that which tamed us: the brute force of routine.
Formally, Dodd’s vast smears of tempera mixed with everything from oil to kombucha to the aforementioned piss bear no resemblance to Channa Horowitz’s orderly geometric permutations (one persisting mural in memoriam across the street on François Ghebaly Gallery), but the number eight seems to echo Horowitz’s practice as a set of self-prescribed actions. Dodd’s permutations are literal messes; proof that self-generation needn’t always wear the cloak of mathematic neatness, nor that chance bear the self-conscious silliness of Dadaism.
Lucy Dodd, "Foss", installation view, 2013, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe.
Foss is a term Dodd has used since 2004 to describe her post-grad dilemma of creation and the various processes and projects she has made in response to it, including a storefront space, a rescued houseplant, a fable, and now... this. The Foss is the all-encompassing pretext to do whatever it is that you need to do. It is both the name of the problem and its own solution. Signs with multiple referents are suddenly stripped of their agency, and the very meaningless of the Foss is what allows it to perpetually proceed. Freedom can be paralyzing, but in naming her dilemma, Dodd has made it both manageable and permeable. The eight paintings here, as well as the assemblage piece—a sort of janky shrine to one of the Foss’s previous incarnations—are only the Foss here and now. They will remain, but the Foss will continue onto something else.
Like the velvet-whiskered Catfish said with his dying breath in Dodd’s peculiar press release:
"Oh yea, no shit…the foss is now the force."
(Image on top: Lucy Dodd, Tally Ho!(pe), 2013, Wild walnut rind, salt water, Bub's urine, Nature's Miracle, verona green earth, kombucha SCOBY, Murphy Oil, iridescent tempera, sassafras, matcha, hematite, graphite and fluorescents on canvas, 105 1/2 x 141 inches overall; Courtesy of the Artist and Blum & Poe.)