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Multiplication, Compression, Depression at Abington

Lisa Murch
Aggregate, by Lisa Murch, 2007, seed pods, steel, paper, feathers

Sculptor Lisa Murch is easy on the eyes. Her sculptures of nature’s fertility and sexy abundance are great fun–realistic and Pop at the same time. Murch is one of four artists in the second series of solo shows at Abington Art Center. The others are Richard Ryan, Mauro Zamora and John Franklin.

Murch, who showed a sculpture of reeds made of venetian blind slats in Abington’s sculpture garden, is ever inventful with her materials. A trail of ants made of seed pods bridge the corner of a room. A ladybug invasion looks like it’s made of Spalding balls cut in half. A school of fish is made of florist’s clay covered with paper. Clay frogs get their rough skin from a coating of sand.

Lisa Murch
Army, detail, by Lisa Murch

The oversized scale of her insects and plants brings the closeup details of a science text to exuberant life. The fish become beautiful and friendly–sort of the way Woody Allen in Antz is no longer the repelling ant that he has turned into in real life. Murch’s frog “Army” with their green skins are sweet army recruits, scrambling over each other to survive the war of nature.

Richard Ryan
Spruce Converge by Richard Ryan, archival ink jet print

Multiplication of a different sort juices Richard Ryan’s paeans to the urban landscape. The images are filled with action and cars and buildings and lights all compressed, stretched, twisted, turned and speeded up on film-like strips arranged in a photo montage. This outing, Ryan has added some marks that look hand-drawn (but are still part of the photo print) and a sense of space that differs from previous work. The images with the marks seemed a little precious. But I loved the ones in which the strips clot and and race across the space. I like the way grayed out buildings suggest depth behind the brown streetscape in Spruce Converge. The action in this work is explosive. My other two favorites in this exhibit hung right next to Converge–Spruce Compress and Spruce Spread.

Mauro Zamora
Blockbuster, 2007, by Mauro Zamora, acrylic, ink and latex enamel on canvas

The world that Mauro Zamora is now painting doesn’t have much to do with the urban landscape. He’s somewhere out in the imaginary exurbs of his mind, where life in a bunker isn’t much of a life at all. Each of his paintings shows bunkers and/or explosions. The colors tend toward the military and dun, the rare flashes of color expressing somber ideas–pink, fleshy rocks or salmon smoke. I liked his addition of grids to some of these, suggesting crosshairs and maps. His deadpan, trademark trees become holes in the landscape, memories of the good life in a messed-up world. The work is incredibly depressing–but interesting, with strange imagery.

John Franklin
Not Titled, 2005, by John Franklin, satin ribbon, vinyl, acrylic paint, gesso on cotton

John Franklin, the last of the four, was the most austere–and the most decorative all at once. His meticulous Minimalist grids, some with ribbon overlays, some bending the rectilinear rows, suggest weaving and fabric. This beautifully crafted work focuses on art-world concerns of color, line, and balance.

For more images in my Flickr set, go here.

I was anxious to get this post up today because tomorrow I’m running around from dawn to way past dusk and Friday I’m off to New York with Murray for a couple of days, because Alex is 29. Hasta la vista.