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First Saturday Symbols and Paper


Jung at Voxresnikof

The work by Justin Witte, Isaac Resnikoff and Joseph Hu at Vox Populi couldn’t be more circumspect. I wanted a Jungian psychoanalyst with me to decode all the dreamy imagery.

Take Resnikoff’s sculptural objects and drawings, collectively called “Gravitas,” for example. Clearly there’s something going on behind the disparate collection of heavily-symbolic stuff (a globe, a book, the ten commandments, a polar bear and a penguin and a sandwich board).

resnikofbookThe best I could figure was Shackleton, Victorian gentemen and the Great Depression (sandwich boards?). Resnikoff’s objects are swell, with lumpty, tactile surfaces and nice painted detail. I liked each one individually, although I don’t know how or if they work together. (image top and right above)

I’m someone who likes a little gravitas in my art and in my life. I found gravitas in the individual pieces here but couldn’t piece it together for the larger whole.

huSpeaking of objects, Joseph Hu, known for his photographs, has fashioned a remarkable object on a shelf in his offering, “Lieben in der Schweiz.”

Hu’s trompe l’oeil object, a white coffee cup on a saucer, with creamer and sugar pack, is made of cardboard, house paint, tracing paper and glue. It’s a total mirage. And with its clean lines, pristine affect and shall we say the lie at its core, I wondered if it was a symbol of the country or the symbol of an airplane ride. At any rate, ceci n’est pas un coffee cup.

huwallHu’s other works are photographs — of snow, of hothouse flowers, and of what appears to be a shot of mountains taken from an airplane. This latter, one image printed on 528 color postcards, is mounted on the wall like wallpaper in a kind of fly’s-eye installation. (image above)

The artist’s color photo of a twig in snow has the sexiest snow I’ve ever seen. (image below) But in the end, I could not make the body of work resolve into a whole with satisfying meaning for me, the viewer.


As for Justin Witte, his wall of pencil drawings on scraps of paper includes something I found poignant — a hand-scrawled notation about “Arcadia, Wednesday” which reminded me that many artists who draw their hearts out and deserve to be in the Arcadia show don’t make it in…for reasons having to do with curators and jurors — and not with their work.


Scrap-drawings are clearly a trend, by the way, not only Nara at ICA, but elsewhere, like Andrew Jeffrey Wright, Marcel Dzama and Michael Dumontier’s “Oddfellows” at PAFA’s Morris Gallery last year.

Witte’s subject, too, seems coded in some dream reality I couldn’t make out. (image above) In their patterned backgrounds and boy-scout-in-the-wilderness subject matter the works remind you of work by Joy Feasley and Paul Swenback, two local artists from the Vox stable. There’s nothing new under the sun, of course, but the similarities make the work feel perhaps a little too familiar.

All in all, it’s a show whose individual works reverberate but whose larger themes elude.

Paper Trail in Old City-I

Snyderman Gallery’s works on paper show (their first) has some outstanding paper pieces.

spaidAs you would expect in a gallery whose hallmark is exquisite craftsmanship, the work is beautiful and beautifully done.

Painter Larry Spaid, who’ll be having a solo show there in May, has two works with wonderfully-worked surfaces and Malevich-like simple shapes in off-kilter relationships that are great on the eyes and great to puzzle over. (image left is Spaid’s “PV 4-5”)

torresThe sculptural glass artists Einar and Jamex de la Torre turn up with two riotous screenprints on a food theme (“Boneless Chicken” and “Pepto Bismal”).

The brothers’ delicately drawn wackiness works very well in two dimensions. (image right is “Boneless Chicken”)

Mitch Gillette’s ballpoint pen drawing, “Avatar,” a tour de force that’s all about gender and drama, is a jewel. gilletteavatar

I want to know how the artist gets such divine results with such a lowly drawing tool. (image, left)

There’s lots more great stuff in the show, from Jason Spivak’s nicely fuzzy, Stonehenge-evoking graphite drawings to a pair of hand-made paper works with dyes by Japanese artist Tsuguo Yanai (shown below).


Yanai’s 3-D work will be at the Philadelphia airport soon, according to staff at the gallery.

I love that Snyderman chose to do a works on paper exhibit right now. It’s great to add this highly crafted and elegant work into the discussion of what’s going on with paper these days. Different strokes, as they say.