Tensile Strength

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© Courtesy of ZieherSmith Inc.
Tensile Strength

516 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10001
May 13th, 2011 - June 11th, 2011
Opening: May 13th, 2011 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

(212) 229-1088
Tue-Sat, 11-6
collage, sculpture


Using hydrocal, fiberglass, and paper, Joy Curtis begins her sculptural process with molds made in situ from urban architectural elements. While some pieces are tinted through the mixture of sumi ink with hydrocal, others grow salt crystals through a solution previously absorbed into the surface, giving them a mineral quality that adjusts to atmospheric changes. These haunting pieces visually mimic natural formations such as stalactites and driftwood while maintaining their references to both classical building ornaments and their modern-day imitations.

Whether Kate Gilmore is kicking and punching through a series of sheetrock walls, smashing her foot out of a bucket of cement or having sledge-hammer-wielding men violently eliminate her precarious pedestal, physical endurance is second to complex conceptual underpinnings. Her feats of physical strength and flinty resolution combine traditional performance and video with architectural as well as sculptural practices. In the exhibition’s featured work, Break of Day, she has also included an element of painting. The artist, dressed in black, repeatedly scales up and down skinny staircases that flank a square structure housing a funnel-form X. Self-tasked with transporting handmade ceramics filled with bright pink pigment, she unceremoniously tosses them and transforms the piece into an hourglass structure. Broken shards of the crude crockery accumulate in the punctured topmost section, pink paint pouring from the center and resulting in a pair of triangular before and after action paintings, simultaneous celebrations of negation and rebirth, creation and destruction.

Jess Fuller unhinges several precedents at once; both by carefully shaping and designing specific stretchers and subsequent treatment of the fabric of her canvas as a source material to be stained, crumpled, dyed, punctured and elegantly shredded. The results invite consideration of the structural components of the work itself as well as attention to the feathery latticework of weathered surfaces, both tactile and remote, as if unearthed from an ancient burial. Muted, faded color is often enhanced by touches of color or text, sometimes a rough frame is painted around the frayed remains of a canvas ground.

The collages of Leigh Wells are subtly reconnoitered scraps of color and snippets of fabric, lush textures depicting cloth and the supple, engraved renderings of drapery and sculpture carved from stone. She works with vague hints of existing fashion and art historical photographs on a ground of foxed and antiquated bookplates, recombined and pushed further with graphic additions in the artist’s own hand into oblique vestimentary abstractions, as though she is clothing a specter.

Curtis recently completed her second solo show at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery. Gilmore has been featured in many museum exhibitions, including the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Fuller’s work has recently been in gallery shows at Canada, The Journal, and Southfirst. This is the New York debut of San Francisco-based Leigh Wells. Curtis, Gilmore, & Fuller work in Brooklyn, New York.