Interesting and illusionistic, artist Jen Pack‘s fiber-on-frame works take on elements of both painting and weaving. After spinning and stitching together colorful compositions of thread, chiffon & cotton, she stretches out the works on a wooden frame like a canvas, paying attention to the way the colors and textures interact on the wall. Her interest in abstraction and slightly meditative clustering or patterning of materials give the works a dreamy effortlessness, and they exist as a space for the viewer to step in and lose themselves in the reverie of observation.
From afar, the works feel bold—even slightly aggressive—but upon further inspection, each piece reveals a soft, extremely fragile surface quality, complete with tiny, wild threads left to catch in the breeze. The duality is pleasing, and Pack’s finishing of the pieces leave the fragments of fabric interacting like paint on panel, illuminated from within by meticulous layering and draping of translucent materials.
At times strangely numb, and at other points echoing a modernist affection for the coldest of structures and surfaces, the most recent work by Philadelphia painter Erin Murray certainly doesn’t lack in focus. Murray’s fixation on the bland, eerily coded architecture of American cities reveals an underlying criticism (or slightly tongue-in-cheek reference) to the simultaneous banality and sinister intentionality that exists in the spaces around us. Rather than allowing these ever-present backdrops of contemporary life to fade quietly into the background, she brings them forward in the hopes that the viewer will find the same suspicious significance in each graphic, expertly rendered façade.
Where her graphite works are dark and slightly ominous, the lush, surrealistic landscapes Murray has sketched out are deliciously disorienting. As a group, they reflect a curious interest in space, place and structure—something that might eventually push Murray’s works off the page and into the 3D realm.
San Francisco-based metalsmith and neon artist Meryl Pataky has shared with us some behind-the-scenes moments from her studio, as she gears up for her next solo project, Cellar Door.
Working exclusively with elements from the periodic table, Pataky uses a collision of phrase and loose linework to give life to her concepts—silver, copper, iron, carbon, neon and all of the noble gases are integral to her investigations. For her latest collection of work, Pataky is creating a series of signage-based installations that attempt to coexist with natural elements. Matching up blown glass with honey, and pairing neon lettering with leafy underbrush, she explores the effect that context and concept have on her luminous, typically commercial medium. The vivid colors and natural, flowing use of line in her pieces echo a mastery of medium, and her nods to just the right amount of science geekery are playful and perfectly timed.
Catching and throwing light from all the right angles, the peculiar, prismatic acrylic pieces from sculptor Phillip Low look like something from outer space. Tip-toeing on the line between art and design, these objects make excellent use of the medium—giving a sense of weight, depth and cellophane-like luminosity to the dense material. The expertly carved shapes combine crystal-like angles and precise areas of coloration to create a series of constantly-shifting reflections that use simple daylight to dazzling effect.
With a serious understanding of classic carpet-making techniques, Azerbaijani sculptor Faig Ahmed is able to stretch, distort and reinvent an iconic symbol steeped in tradition and cultural significance. “The carpet is a symbol of invincible tradition of the East, it’s a visualization of an undestroyable icon,” Ahmed states, noting that the manipulation of the woven medium gives visual form to ideas he has relating to “destroying the stereotypes of tradition to create new modern boundaries.” The rug, as a medium, works well for Ahmed, helping to deploy a deeper message about the stretching, bending and restructuring of physical and political boundaries in the Middle East. His technical mastery is evident in the movements of each thread, and his generous use of color gives the work an overall vibrancy—perhaps hinting at the artist’s sense of optimism in a time of great uncertainty and turmoil.
Massive, glowing webs of geometric gems climb the walls, successfully controlling the behavior of early afternoon light—while soaking the empty surfaces of the space with gentle washes of color. It’s only upon close inspection that the pieces reveal themselves to be painstakingly handcrafted, light-as-a-feather paper sculptures by Brooklyn-based artist Kirsten Hassenfeld. She applies her sharp paper craft skill set to creating fanciful, (if not slightly frivolous) site-specific works that command presence, but in reality are quite ephemeral. A nice study of pure form, movement and spatial composition.
With simplified brushstrokes and a sophisticated sense of color, Ohio-based painter Timothy Callaghan‘s most recent works carefully construct a narrative around the passing of time. His eye for immediacy takes the form of crumpled love letters, a buzzing neon sign and the stillness of shirts hanging in a closet—each piece a quiet, tongue-in-cheek observation of daily life.
Callaghan released his first book this week through William Busta Gallery, highlighting his own work, as well as that of several other contemporary artists working in observational painting. Definitely worth a look.
With a somewhat brutal realness, artist (and YBA member) Tracey Emin confronts her viewers with work that is provocative, personal—and stakes claim to a sizeable piece of feminist-advised contemporary art landscape. She works in a variety of media, choosing to work in a combination of sculpture, painting and installation.
Her most recent body of work hinges on ideas of self-discovery, reflection and vulnerability. An installation of quiet, pleading text-based sculptures rest on tables surrounded by raw, harshly expressionist gouache drawings. It feels as though the work overall serves as some kind of confession, because it possesses a strange openness, even as the concepts float from neon to paper to projection.
I Followed You To The Sun is on view at Lehmann Maupin through June 30.