jerks, balks, outblurts, and jump-overs
The exhibition ‘jerks, balks, outblurts, and jump-overs’
ponders the relationship between contemporary abstraction, the poetry
of William Carlos Williams, and Lucy Lippard’s 1966 exhibition Eccentric Abstraction.
Including painting and sculpture from both Los Angeles and New York,
this exhibition aims to locate new avenues of abstraction that
reconcile the localness of design, the humility of chance, and the
fragileness of grace. This exhibition includes the work of Brad
Eberhard, Kent Hammond, Pamela Jorden, Pam Lins, Daniel Mendel-Black,
Rebecca Morris, Halsey Rodman, and Amy Sillman.
It is easy to cite the ineffable while discussing certain topics. Abstraction is one such topic; a subject that mystifies as much as it provokes. Still chief in the alienation of the bourgeois, seeming signpost of decadence, and guilty pleasure to those who have embraced the satisfactions of shape, line, color, movement, space, et al. While meeting with these artists, we spoke of these guilty pleasures, with murmurings of structure, associations, and metaphor.
Poetry is another topic that often elicits enraptured silence, shrugs, or canned finger snapping. Beyond a cursory recounting of narrative, things can get complicated. Consider the structure, timing, and meditation of Williams’ classic “The Red Wheelbarrow”:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
the reader slowly builds Williams’ verse, we are caught in a read that
pushes, pulls, tightens, and slackens. This casual glimpse reveals as
much in associations as it does in specific imagery. We are allowed to
embrace the sensuousness of the image and we are encouraged to push
further into what rests in the fate of that simple wheelbarrow.
Writing on the poetry of William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound takes note of the, “volts, jerks, sulks, balks, outblurts, and jump-overs,” that are fundamental structural themes in Williams verse. Though incomprehensible to Pound, he knows these interruptions are not superfluous. It is editor Charles Tomlinson that reduces Pound’s quotation to where I derive my title.
‘Eccentric Abstraction’ was Lucy Lippard’s recognition that new forms were reconciling the dilemmas between formal considerations and associative meanings, material flatness and illusionary space, image and object. While primarily an exploration into sculpture, Lippard was acknowledging forms that ideally dissolve such distinction. These works were quite aware of their materiality, their object-ness, yet equally aware of their imagistic tendencies. The artists in ‘jerks, balks, outblurts, and jump-overs’ are similarly engaged.