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Strange and edgy at Moore College of Art and Design – Kathy Butterly and Marlo Pascual

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October 1, 2013   ·   0 Comments

Marlo Pascual, Untitled, 2013, digital C-print, edition 1 of 2. Image courtesy of the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York. Photo by Jean Vong.

Maegan pairs two artists at the Galleries at Moore and finds concordance in their mystique. –>the artblog editors———————>

Visiting Moore College of Art and Design, I was interested by themes of the strange that echoed throughout the work of two artists showing there: Kathy Butterly and Marlo Pascual.  Butterly’s enigmatic sculptures and Pascual’s appropriated photo-installations played nicely off of one another with qualities of the puzzling, the bizarre and the humorous linking both shows.

Kathy Butterly’s visionary pots

Kathy Butterly, Yellow Pants Dance, 1995, clay and glaze. Image courtesy of the artist and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.

Kathy Butterly, Yellow Pants Dance, 1995, clay and glaze. Image courtesy of the artist and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.

Visionary Women: Kathy Butterly and Ann King Lagos focuses on the recipients of the College’s Visionary Woman Awards for 2013.  Of the awards, the gallery writes that they “celebrate exceptional women who have made significant contributions to the arts and are national leaders in their fields.”  I was particularly drawn to Butterly’s small sculptures, each of which contains a world of humor and intrigue.  ”Yellow Pants Dance” is a perfect example of Butterly’s wonderful sense of whimsy.  The form most closely resembles a vase; twisted sinuously at the base, it appears to dance.  In “Latex”, a crumpled form wraps around itself.  The glazing on this piece is very glossy: the hue gives the impression of skin, but the work retains a definitively artificial and uncomfortable feel.

Kathy Butterly, Latex, 2008, clay and glaze. Collection of Marge Brown and Phil Koladner. Image courtesy of the artist and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York

Kathy Butterly, Latex, 2008, clay and glaze. Collection of Marge Brown and Phil Koladner. Image courtesy of the artist and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York

Kathy Butterly, Ckhaatrhlyie, 2012, clay and glaze.  Image courtesy of the artist and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.

Kathy Butterly, Ckhaatrhlyie, 2012, clay and glaze. Image courtesy of the artist and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.

Butterly’s work is reminiscent of that of George Ohr, the self-proclaimed “Mad Potter of Biloxi,” whose inventive “no two the same” forms confused his turn of the century audience.  Viewing her works, I realized I was anthropomorphizing her forms, distinguishing them in my mind as having distinct personalities and quirks, as Ohr was rumored to have done with his own art.  The diminutive forms are packed with detail and interest that make viewing each one a unique delight.  ”Green Electric,” another vase-like form, rests atop a funky base of tilted legs.  The form has great texture thanks to what look to be many layers of glaze, built up over several firings.  Butterly’s forms maximize the emotional potential of clay, balancing attraction and repulsion with a good dose of humor.

Kathy Butterly, Green Electric, 2012, clay and glaze. Image courtesy of the artist and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.

Kathy Butterly, Green Electric, 2012, clay and glaze. Image courtesy of the artist and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.

Marlo Pascual’s fractured photographs

Viewing Marlo Pascual’s photo-driven installations in the Goldie Paley Gallery is a strange and haunting experience.  The artist utilizes “props” that accentuate her appropriated photos.  She culls from both ebay and thrift stores, scans the photos and then re-prints them for use in her installations.  In most of the prints in this show, the same subject’s face is covered either partially or fully by an image or object that Pascual has superimposed over the surface.  Her model in this exhibit is a female in a posed portrait that looks to be from the seventies.  Pascual’s layering has the interesting effect of making the image disjointed and disconnected from its original form.

Marlo Pascual, Untitled, 2013, digital C-print, edition 1 of 2. Image courtesy of the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York. Photo by Jean Vong.

Marlo Pascual, Untitled, 2013, digital C-print, edition 1 of 2. Image courtesy of the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York. Photo by Jean Vong.

In one print, a web is overlaid on the portrait, with the body of an enormous spider dangling ominously in the center of the woman’s face.  In another print, the image remains unaltered but for two small round end tables that have been affixed to its surface, with one jutting out of the subject’s eye, drawing the photo from two dimensions into three.

Installation view of Marlo Pascual.  The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia. September 14 – October 19, 2013.

Installation view of Marlo Pascual. The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia. September 14 – October 19, 2013.

Another table resting on the floor connects the installation further to the space.  In fact, Pascual fully utilizes all of the area the gallery has to offer, an element which was both surprising and refreshing; photography exhibits typically surround, but do not enter, the available space. Here, however, half of a torn portrait lies, seemingly discarded, on the gallery floor.  An image of a floating hand and pair of feet occupy the opposite end of the gallery.  Pascual repeats this technique in other portraits: in one, the hand is stretched out in front of the sitter’s face, obscuring the original image.

Installation view of Marlo Pascual.  The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia. September 14 – October 19, 2013.

Installation view of Marlo Pascual. The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia. September 14 – October 19, 2013.

Pascual seems to be creating an ambience here, pulling the old photos from their original context and placing them into a world of her own imagination.  The installation has a macabre feel to it, as though Pascual saw the potential to reinterpret the portraits in a more aggressive light than was formerly intended.  She carries it off well; the intense gaze of the sitter became increasingly disturbing as I walked through the gallery.  Pascual is playing with the notion of sculpture through the layering in her photos; the original object, the photo, seems as present and mutable as the physical objects in the space.

Moore College of Art and Design has three great shows this month: Marlo Pascual’s “psychologically-charged photo-based sculptures,” in the Goldie Paley Gallery, new works by Tra Bouscaren in the Levy Gallery and “Arts and Visionary Women: Kathy Butterly and Ann King Lagos” in the Wilson Gallery.   All of these shows will be on display until October 19, 2013 and are well worth checking out.  For more information, visit the gallery’s website.

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