This week’s Weekly has my review of Matthew Osborn at Pageant and Candida Hofer at Arcadia. Below is the copy with some pictures.
Matthew Osborn’s “My Bones – Your Skin” at Pageant and “Candida Hofer – Philadelphia” at Arcadia University are two shows that take you to the limits of 2-D art being shown locally. Osborn’s drawings and Hofer’s color photographs represent some of the best of what’s being done here — from hip musings in ink on paper by a young local talent to majestic architectural photographs by an internationally-acclaimed artist at the top of her game.
Osborn’s show is chock full of drawings and paintings and a video animation. The 50-something works in the show — all made in the last two months according to gallerist Daniel Dalseth – are but a small fraction of what the artist brought to the gallery to install. (See short clip of the video here.)
The images combine cartoon characters and words in turgid, funny, chatty, confessional pieces that channel both monsters and our better angels. Osborn’s fascinated with the duality of identity and people’s ability to slip from one face to another. At a time of increasing cyber-identity games and confusion, the many-faceted human personality is a great subject to be working.
Part of the charm of the works is their word-smithing. Osborn is a gifted artist/writer on par with Scottish artist David Shrigley. In places the words achieve almost Hallmark Card sentiments about relationships and inner strength “Last night, today, tomorrow, forever” says one poster-like work with a pattern of upside-down spades in red, black and white. “Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled,” says another. In both works you might expect a pleasant graphic to accompany the words but what you get instead is a big hairy monster shouting the phrase at you like in some nasty dream. And hello art buyers, Osborn’s works are incredibly affordable—prices range from $10-$1000 with most works priced under $100.
Hofer, a German artist, came to town in 2007 via a local connection, collector Mari Shaw, who helped the artist gain access to the interiors of some of Philadelphia’s landmark buildings. Hofer, who is known for her photos of historic interiors makes large scale works with crisp detail that showcase rooms where humans interact, laws get written, books get read and audiences watch.
Hofer has made works that enfold the viewer in their spaces and make them feel the space with their bodies. After the 911 attacks Hofer had not done a photo shoot in the US until now, she said at a seminar at Slought the year she was here. The buildings she chose in Philadelphia continue her fascination with light, color, space and the activities of humans.
Last January, Hofer’s Chelsea gallery, Sonnabend, exhibited eight of the Philadelphia photographs (see all). Four are on display at Arcadia and even if you know the buildings(PAFA’s Furness building; Fisher Library at University of Pennsylvania; Beth Shalom Synagogue; Masonic Temple) you will be wowed by the images which allow you to linger in the rooms and observe details you would probably overlook when visiting them in person.
>>Matthew Osborn-My Bones-Your Skin, to May 2. Pageant Gallery, 607 Bainbridge St., 215 925 1536
>>Candida Hofer-Philadelphia, to April 19. Lecture and reception, Sat. April 11, 4 PM, Stiteler Auditorium and reception to follow in the gallery. Arcadia University Art Gallery, Spruance Fine Arts Center, 450 South Easton Rd, Glenside. 215 572 2131.