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The purgatory of inbetweenness — Andrea Gaydos Landau at Tiger Strikes Asteroid


[Noreen reviews a show that asks the viewer to rethink conceptions of space and logic, tying in both weight and whimsy and finding a balance. — the Artblog editors]

The work on the walls of Tiger Strikes Asteroid this month is in limbo: a state of uncertainty, paradox, and–like the name of the show–double negatives. Never Wanted Nothing, a solo show by Philadelphia artist Andrea Gaydos Landau, engages its viewers in the melancholy of inbetweenness.

Read between the lines

Still Life, 8- x 8-
“Still Life, 8 x 8,” by Andrea Gaydos Landau

The work explores a variety of media, from sculptural drawings to collage. Upon the viewer’s entrance, the left wall of the gallery houses the latter. Created with found paper (mainly black-and-white advertisements from the 1920s) Landau’s collages display a unique, Escher-like interpretation of space. The tumbling compositions of the collages immediately distort perception; paper-cut forms that appear to rest in the foreground are overlapped by what appears at first to be a negative space.

Intersection of Two Spheres, 10-x10-
“Intersection of Two Spheres, 10 x 10,” by Andrea Gaydos Landau

In “Intersection of Two Spheres,” Landau uses wordplay to overturn perception of the image. Presented with two sky-blue circles intersecting, the objects first strike the viewer as a window to the sky. Logically, the structure of gray paper becomes the foreground. However, the work’s title sacrifices spatial logic; the conception of the two blue forms as a window to the sky is false. The title names them “spheres,” indicating that they are not a view of the background, but two intersecting objects in the foreground.

Space exploration

Untitled by Andrea Gaydos Landau
“Untitled,” by Andrea Gaydos Landau

The rest of the gallery is consumed by large-scale installations that blur the boundary between sculpture and drawing, cleverly called “2.5-dimensional” by the artist. The walls become Landau’s canvas–the negative space of white paint is as essential to the piece as its physical content.

Spatial consideration is also crucial to the installation adjacent to the collage. The untitled work, a spherical mass of interlocking geometry, positions itself just off-center of the gallery’s eastern wall. The space-to-object ratio gives the installation plenty of visual breathing room, in order for the work to expand and fully interact with the wall.

The float-away forms of Untitled
The float-away forms of “Untitled”

Made of painted textile, the work showcases several elements of the composition suspended by thin pricks of wire. Toward the ceiling, the form begins to dissipate, with geometric clusters floating away from the central mass like fragments of wreckage.

The installation feels locked in constant vibration; duplicate shadows from multiple light sources, sculptural dimensions, and the jagged edges of the material give the piece a constant hum of movement, which is further amplified by its rhythmic geometry, shifting constantly between weight and weightlessness. This ever-shifting duality, a constant flux between presence and absence, resonates with purgatorial dismay.

Heavy feeling


“Haystack” exchanges the agitated vibrations of “Untitled” for a solid, tumbling heaviness. The center of the piece is a nest-like compilation of material, beads, wire, and chain, all a shade of thick, velvety black. The radial lines erupting from the center of the piece draw the eye in criss-cross motions. From this comes a motion of circuitous turning, tossing, and unrest.

Haystack, detail
Detail of “Haystack”

In comparison to the “Untitled” work, “Haystack” is more forceful in its mood: brooding, heavy, morose. What draws all the work together is Landau’s excellent articulation of emotion. Through a deliberate and poetic obfuscation of void and form, object and space, the artist confronts the malaise and mystery of duality.

Andrea Gaydos Landau’s “Never Wanted Nothing” can be seen now through June 29, 2014 at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, 319A N 11th Street, Suite 2H, Philadelphia, PA.