Process, layering, and a love of materials are evident this September at Projects Gallery, Bambi Gallery, and Vincent Michael Gallery.
Fresh! 2010 is the third edition of Projects Gallery’s annual season opener of emerging artists. One of the criteria in organizing this exhibition, co-curated by Gallery Director Helen Meyrick and artist Brooke Holloway, is that the participating artists must have been educated or live in Philadelphia. The show includes eleven recent BFA and MFA graduates of local art schools, and even though eight of them graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the individuality of each artist’s concept and presentation keeps the show diverse. Three artists in particular have intelligent ways of conveying the content in their work.
Many artists in this exhibition allow the history of their work’s development to show. Some artists accomplish this with pentimenti, exposed layers of paint, or the animation of a developing drawing. A moving example of this is Adrian Aguirre’s Fences. This rigorous 38” x 50” charcoal drawing is powerful both formally and conceptually. The presence of the artist’s hand, the pentimenti, the use of the eraser, and the rendering of the men’s expressions make a work that’s full of life, space, light, and emotion.
Another artist, Christy Bottie, was not afraid to try and succeed at using resin, a material she was unfamiliar with, in her works focusing on the elements. In Metal, Bottie painstakingly layered oil and resin, even though the oil would not dry fully on the resin, to create depth.
Katelyn Greth’s startling mixed media sculpture, Sheep Boy, (seen recently in Vox VI) is poignant for conjuring the state of indeterminacy all graduates feel, being aggressive, young and fearful of the future. The open, unassuming approach of these artists made the delivery of their content – which varied widely from immigration (Adrian Aguirre’s Fences) to questions artists face when they finish school – all the more poignant. The work in this show was found through an investigation instead of a preconceived notion.
The exploration of materials and what they can do could be pushed further in some of the pieces, however. Most artists seemed to stick with traditional materials. Likewise, some of the artists seem to hold back on stretching the variety, internal scale, and palette within their work making the whole show a little underwhelming. It would have been good to see more unexpected uses of color in paintings such as Chytrid by Maggie Mills and Snug Harbor by Winston Sordoni. Kelly A. Kozma’s work is intelligent in the way it draws with shadows, combines layers, and in it’s color relationships. However, the work would be more exciting if there was a greater variety in the internal scale of the work. Proportionally, most of the shapes stay within a very narrow size range and remain contained within the limits of the paper. The conceptual side of the work in this show was vibrant but the formal side needs to grow.
And while collaboration is hardly new, it’s great to see the joint work by a.d. loveday and Maggie Mills’ What Should We Do Now?, which included the participation of a group of people standing in the street outside of their studio building holding up signs with letters forming the question what should they do now that they are graduating. This work is exciting because it involves performance art with multiple participants, surprising the community, and branching out to a medium (photography) that is not their concentration.
Others in the show include Michelle Anne Clements, Scott Patrick Giblin, Reza Nahaie-Ghanad, and Laurie Werth. Fresh! 2010 runs through September 25th. Projects Gallery
Joseph Hasenaur’s “Lil’ Pus..A girl’s best friend” is on view until September 26th at Bambi Gallery. This is Hasenaur’s first return to fine art in fifteen years after a career in graphic design, advertising, and filmmaking. The show is comprised of brightly colored paintings, prints, and photographs, which humorously depict women and girls doing everyday activities with their “octopus,” which appears to be a funny, surreal reference to sex organs, sexual desire, gender… maybe all of the above.
But these design-y paintings are less interesting than another body of work — a set of cell phone photographs with hand-written comments. The artist calls these photographs his diary of the last three months. This is where Hasenaur breaks with graphic design for fine art. It is obvious from the framing, sequencing, and content of these photographs that the artist has experience in film and creating a narrative open to interpretation. The subjects of the photos vary, but are tied together both formally and conceptually. They are all the same size and format, and the cell phone has a particular palette. In these photographs, the formation of this body of work is explored and it becomes clear how influential everyday life is on an artist’s studio practice. The comments on the photographs reveal some of the artist’s thought process. These images are personal, not precious in the way they were shot or displayed, and filled with vitality. The impermanent, private quality of the photographs – the food on the kitchen counter, a stage in the painting process – puts the viewer into a privileged position. Also on view, Veronica Hanssens’ portrait drawings in the project space. At Bambi to Sept. 26.
Vincent Michael Gallery’s Hidden Realizations, on view through September 25th, includes Tom French, an emerging artist, and Chloe Faith Urban. Visiting from England, French is having his first exhibition of drawings and prints in the United States. Formally, French’s work shows a high level of technical skill, sensitivity towards mark making, and a love for the directness of drawing. The content of the work – life and death – is addressed with images of skulls and young women. Unfortunately, the skill and vigor of the drawings far outweigh the content.
Urban’s gelatin silver prints with added collage of lace or ink have a strong focus on layering and tone. The formal side of a work can also be the rich, moving content in a work but that is not the case here.
This exhibition shows both artists have a great deal of potential due to their technical ability and energy – but the work stays within graphic design. It is a disappointment to see graphic design being called art because it takes away space from deserving artists. The work in this show leaves the spirit and mind wanting more. At Vincent Michael to Sept. 25.