Grimanesa Amoros centerpieces strong Artspace retrospective
Griminesa Amoros’s dramatic torsos dominate the Gallery One show at Artspace, but are surrounded by equally strong work as the artists -in-residence retrospective show moves toward its closing September 5th. Artspace has used this series of residencies to raise the bar for out-of-town alternative visual artists’ showings in Raleigh, and has highlighted several highly deserving local talents as well.
Reconsidered brings together myriad artistic styles unified by a passionate and meticulous attention to physicality – to the actual visual textures presented by the artistic artifact. The mental constructs that inform these explorations each seem amazingly different – the show itself is quite a collage.
The media installation by Sherri Lynn Wood, seen on the right wall above, was interactive in a way that emblemized the reach this program had into the community. Spectators were invited to use small printed forms to share their own slogan in response to the video, which featured repetitive phrases. The responses slowly filled the wall around the video screen throughout the show. You can see the video yourself at www.mantratrailer.com.
Eileen Doktorski’s bronze landfill castings are in the center rear above. The use of precious metals to cast the surfaces of human waste gave the pieces a strong aura of future artifact – ironic snapshots of our throw-away culture.
The show includes a range of more traditional work. Anthony Ulinski’s muted oil paintings seem nearly empty at first glance. Rarely is such really really low-key subject matter treated so thoughtfully. The strokes and composition radiate the sensibility of this master woodworker and excellent soul. IlaSahai Prouty’s traditional felts present as shields or medallions, though she calls them sails on the ocean of words, which I also like very much. I didn’t see her 3-D shapes as wind-pushed but as macroscopic waves of the incredible textures that permeated the show. Ann Marie Kennedy presents pristine handmade papers with exquisite suspensions of plant materials. Laura Berman opens the show’s entrance with yet another textural study – the cumulative effect of a huge spread of deceptively un-simple line drawings on paper swatches, carefully applied as a wall installation. Carrie Scanga’s etchings are accurately described in the show catalog as “enigmatic and uncanny…concerned with…the liminal aspects of memory.” My favorite print, “baker banana,” evoked Picasso’s harlequins .
The pregnant figures with truncated limbs take some digesting, to say the least. The astounding visceral physicality of the body casts combines with the amorphous identity of the figures, both personally and sexually, to create a large silence with many voices, muted and stoic, and filled with tension. All of their bodies are identical and pregnant; each head is a different human, at least to my eye. There are male and female pairs, clearly coupled but arranged in various states of estrangement and bond. A lone female figure emanates calm and seems a narrator, or Grimanesa herself, contemplating the profound enigma that dawns on the spectator as one studies the figures and reflects on the title, which is You Cannot Feel It…I Wish You Could. If you haven’t kept up with the emergence of the male pregnancy concept, this piece is perhaps the perfect introduction. Grimanesa has blessed Raleigh with another vision from her far-reaching explorations of human identity and artistic media to reflect it.
Artspace has done an outstanding job with this series. The artists each had the rather unique opportunity to develop an installation or body of work totally integrated into a large exhibit space they control. Teaching at Artspace each summer I have seen them work, share with summer students and the public, and find a balance between sharing their semi-public work process and creating the time and space to produce sophisticated and enriching art right before our eyes. Part of the series’ great success surely lies with Lia Newman, who serves as director of programs and exhibits with great devotion and skill, but also brings the perspective of an active and successful artist who can really make these visitors feel at home and understood. Yeah, Lia!!