RSVP 4 — a group show at LGTripp Gallery

[Lauren reviews a group show of artists all taking different approaches to abstraction. — the Artblog editors]

LGTripp’s pristine white gallery is filled to the brim this summer (yet again) with explosive splashes of color from the work of 13 abstract artists hailing from the Philadelphia area. The gallery’s summer invitational showcases 12 artists new to the gallery and one artist, Raphael Fenton- Spaid, who has shown in the space before.

Big impacts and subtle statements

Spaid's enormous broken boardwalk. (Ecko, mixed media, 140" x 105" x 60")
Fenton-Spaid’s enormous broken boardwalk. “Ecko,” mixed media, 140″ x 105″ x 60″.

Raphael Fenton-Spaid’s “Ecko,” a multimedia sculptural piece, is overwhelming. Standing in front of “Ecko” creates a feeling in the viewer of their own mild insignificance, like standing in front of the ocean or looking up at the sky for too long. The installation’s dimensions are 140” x 105” x 60”; walking before the piece and looking into its desolate, white “street scene” creates a feeling that if you step too far, you may fall in.


“Ecko” takes up the entire wall and parts of the ceiling, and projects out from the wall. It forces the viewer to stand back, look up, look down, and look around. The imagery within the piece is, for lack of better words, an acid trip: the support that projects from the wall is completely white and lined with various 3D oddities that suggest a Jersey Shore boardwalk amusement park and industrial construction work. This psychedelic landscape funnels into a heavily saturated sunset of blue, pink, and yellow. Pieces of the 3D assemblage are cut out, like puzzle pieces. This land could be a mangled slice of utopia–a happy and colorful, dilapidated farce on the outside with a bottomless, empty pit on the inside.

Singletary's quiet genius. (Synthesis #2, archival pigment print from 4x5 negative, framed)
Singletary’s quiet genius. “Synthesis #2,” archival pigment print from 4 “x 5” negative, framed.

Across the way from Spaid’s expansive work rest two pieces by John Singletary that are quieter, cleaner, and more minimal than the rest of the show. Both pieces are archival pigment prints derived from 4″ x 5″ negatives, and both are black and white. “Synthesis #2” is a piece that makes the viewer wonder what exactly is being presented to them.

The work vaguely resembles the meditative brushstrokes of Japanese calligraphy masters; the quick, amorphous oval shape appears as an afterthought, while simultaneously resembling a beautiful dollop of clear shampoo in the palm of your hand. The super-saturated, pure black areas near the bottom provide an eerie contrast to the bleached and burned appearance of the lighter gradients toward the top. “Synthesis #2,” in all of its subtle beauty, does provide an air of violence which comes from the fast-paced movement of the mark–a quiet anger taken out in a single stroke. Singletary’s pieces are large, both standing at 54” x 40”, their marks the focal point of each piece.


Open to interpretation

"Not Untitled Number Eight, (because it already speaks for itself)." (Tomasulo, inkjet on cotton rag, framed)
Andrew Tomasulo, “Not Untitled Number Eight, (because it already speaks for itself),” inkjet on cotton rag, framed.

Through the gallery’s small hallway hang the works of Andrew Tomasulo–his inkjet prints shimmering at the end of the passage like some sort of Holy Grail. “Not Untitled Number Eight” gives the impression of a painting made up of thick layers of paint, permeated by paint-knife marks and other aggressive strokes with paintbrushes; these bold features contrast with an overlay of splatters and delicate washes of paint. But, to our surprise, the piece is an inkjet print on cotton rag.

It’s easy to get lost in Tomasulo’s work, because we are constantly wondering: how? What exactly are we looking at? “Not Untitled Number Eight” looks like bacteria and amoebas floating in champagne under a microscope, dissolving into effervescence and leaving paths behind them, but I’m positive that’s not the first interpretation of the artist’s work; nor will it be the last.

Albert Fung's darkly lit oil landscapes. (Bring Your Own Redemption, A silence Can End in No Sound, Fall Apart Again, all oil on canvas)
Albert Fung’s darkly lit oil landscapes. “Bring Your Own Redemption, A Silence Can End in No Sound, Fall Apart Again,” oil on canvas.

Other pieces in the show include the fast-paced, colorful worlds of Albert Fung; the happiest, most patient, geometric encaustic paintings of Karen Freedman; and the pulsating, Kandinsky-esque paintings of Lynn B. Denton. Also included in the show are Kenneth Schiano, Tim Ruffin, William Diabello, William Phelps Montgomery, Laura Sallade, Stuart Lehrman, and Lori Evensen.


Walking through LGTripp is not only a visual delight, but a delight for the mind as well. Moving from piece to piece and experiencing each artist’s different approach to abstraction and their emotional representation of it–Singletary’s seemingly spontaneous marks in contrast to Freedman’s patient ones, Fenton-Spaid’s deserted utopia rivaling Denton’s pulsating opus–LGTripp’s exhibition reminds the viewer that abstraction has been, and will always be constantly changing.


RSVP 4 at LGTripp Gallery is on view through August 16, 2014. The gallery is located at 47 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106.