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Molly Metz’s multi-layered paintings, sculptures flow through Fleisher/Ollman

Corey Qureshi visits 'Molly Metz: Close Closer' at Fleisher/Ollman gallery, where they were delighted to see multi-layered paintings flow into amorphous and cavernous sculptures. Corey highly recommends giving this show a visit, which is on view through August 13, 2021!

Three paintings-- one large, two small-- and a small ceramic sculpture by Molly Metz, installed on the white walls of Fleisher/ Ollman Gallery.
Installation view of “Molly Metz: Close Closer” at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, 2021. Courtesy Fleisher/Ollman Gallery.

In Close Closer, Molly Metz’s paintings ooze slowly from a distance, yet bubble with activity when seen up close. Without any definite portrayal of water, the eight paintings on view at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery have an exciting current that feels deeply aquatic. Clustered brush strokes that seem abstract from certain perspectives create dense movement from others. Small words/phrases and flowing directions conduct these images.

Take the massive “Yes or No?” (75.5″ x 55″) . At a distance, the piece doesn’t give much besides earthy masses of color streaked with bold, black strokes. A layered border frames the viewer forward into the painting. The four corners read “Yes Yes” and “no no” across the top and bottom respectively, framing the motion of many little yeses and noes among other life-forms. Schools of fish-like “species” of various colors and patterns engage with and follow each other through layers of other species. Tendrils of plants and other rooted lines are collectively blown by currents or the cloud of movement. I’d hazard a guess the larger black lines are beings or phenomena that could swallow up anything else in there they’d like. Up close, the busyness on such a large scale puts you inside a moment previously abstracted by distance.

Large abstract painting with instruct brush strokes throughout, and four gray squares in each of the four corners, in which "yes" is written in the top two squares, and "no" is written in the bottom two squares. Large gray brushstrokes overlap and interact in the center of the painting, sometimes disappearing into the jungle of smaller brushstrokes behind it, including tiny green ovals with the phrases "yes yes yes" or "no no no" written inside of them in light green.
Molly Metz, “Yes or No?” 2021, Acrylic, ink, newsprint on canvas, 75.5″ x 55″. Courtesy Fleisher/Ollman Gallery.

All the details described here could be perceived as cellular scenes. Instead of fish, cells. Instead of plants, veins. “Many Times” makes a strong case for this microscopic interpretation. Veiny threads snake in and out of the border / dominant presence’s foreground. Wormy cells swim horizontally through it all, reading “many times many times many times” or “many times many”. This repetition of phrases gives a sense of process or the passing of time, the way reinforced or contradicting sentiments can warp meanings. A tri-colored background resembles some stretch of live tissue. The unfocused look of this tissue invites you to consider Metz’s layered dynamic throughout the whole show.

Abstract painting of tiny yellow ovals with different permutations of the phrase "many times many times" written inside of them, on top of a swampy and bodily-like background with intricate patterns and shapes throughout.
Molly Metz, “Many Times” 2021, Acrylic, ink, marker, newsprint on canvas, 35″ x 35″. Courtesy Fleisher/Ollman Gallery.

Two pit-fired ceramics adorn the walls on small shelves under paintings, implying connections to them. With its orifices, “Five Holed Limb” sits beneath “This Way.” It could be a body or an overview of one of the settings amphibious movement flows throughout. The painting and sculptures’ matching acrylic palettes (a sourly soft orange) extend the painting’s motion downward, stream-like. “Winged Limb” further implies a body with its wings resembling hands holding themselves with an anxious softness. It seems to flee from its companion “Games,” a chaotic and compelling landscape of motion.

Overall, Close Closer emanates an intriguing and playful energy. The generally undefinable details beg you to step in for closer examination. These high-energy images are kept unstressful by their meditative qualities, never feeling overly serious.

The show is running concurrently with Bill Walton’s Material Gestures, a thought-provoking study in minimalism on just the other side of the gallery’s central wall. While Walton’s juxtaposed gestures are hardened in place, Molly Metz’s work flows with a muted beauty.

Close Closer‘ is on view at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery from June 11 to August 13, 2021, Tuesday-Friday 10:30am — 5:30pm.

A bulging, slanted, ceramic sculpture with 3 cavernous holes scattered around the hollow mass, which has been glazed with gray, light green, and pink tones, that accentuate the contours of the object.
Molly Metz, “Five-Holed Limb” 2021, Acrylic on ceramic, 7.25″ x 5.25″ x 6″. Courtesy Fleisher/Ollman Gallery.