Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jesuvian Process at Elizabeth Dee Gallery

A group show consisting of artists working in the last 50 years, portrays a concern with the contemporary obsession with recognition, blinded by the market and undervalued by lack of constructive criticism.
The title of the show "Jesuvian Process" takes on 2 significant meanings for the show, one pertaining to a term coined by art historian Rosalind Krauss, which describes the castration anxiety felt by men and the overall desire to overcome, secede and superiorize, over their rahter or larger counterpart. The second meaning pertains to the dialogue these works engage in, unconcerned about representation, regal conceptions, focusng rather on delapidated found material and jumbling them all together to create a successful un-pompous object.
The curated concept puts these artists on a self-created pedestal, guilty of "I'm larger than you because I made a good work of art that is formless yet meaningful, superior without even trying using garbage." I am certain this is far from the case but the concept behind the show, and the press release tells otherwise.
The most appealing in a non-appealing way is Hillary Harnischfeger's paper collage works. A dense layer of paper is carved deeply and concisely, most likely by an electronic cutter, creating a bulbous landscape, abstract forms that are underlined and outlined with thin colors of marker. The overall color scheme is an off dirty white, tainted and marked by blotches of subdued grays, maroons, and forest greens.
They are reminiscent of the large scale expressive abstract paintings of Janaina Tschape, especially the work titled Patternist II from 2007, made of paper, ink and plaster. There is a feminine crafty aspect to the work that is appealing to the eye, but not as clean and pretty. The sharply incised cuts and ridges create a subtle violent tone that is missed at first glance. The incongruent pattern making process seems spontaneous, uneven, disheveled, but unified by an imperfect beauty which is more real and tangible than the over-archiving perfection-ing act of the too careful and mighty.
The wooden sculpture works of Louise Nevelson perfectly exemplifies the theme of the show, with its kitschy and haphazard assembling of scrap pieces. The piece seems to be stifled and stuck on the wall, as if it were a breathing figure trapped and wishing to be free standing. The layers of elements are geometric and abstract, but again as in the works of Harnischfeger, very tangible, humble and dignified in its solidarity, its all encompassing dominance of color. It has a tinge of Raucherberg's Combines to its agenda but fiercer, more subdued, demanding.
These two artists seem to conversate to each other and perfectly understand each other, although they speak in 2 different languages.
Majority of the works in "Jesuvian Process" successfully transcend today's anxieties of making it big in the art world, and because of this irresponsibility to contributing ot the neuroticism, they succeed in getting their message through, which is formless, layered, and free.

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