In Between: Various Artists at Various Galleries on the Lower East Side
We live in a time when artists, curators and galleries are no longer expected or required to hew rigidly to a particular dogma and artistic ideology, to represent a camp and to draw battle lines in the heroic march of artistic progress. Though orthodoxies exist, and while pluralism in art is not anything like a new idea, it seems that this is one of those periods of art when, outside some passing fashions, it would be difficult to identify any dominant movement. There is a great deal of lively and generous work being made and shown today that crosses lines and exists in between historical polarities.
What follows is intended to pick out some examples of "in betweenness" from among the many current group shows. I do not regard these picks as remotely comprehensive of what is on even only view today. I have further narrowed my focus to artists who work in traditional, as opposed to new, media and who do not seem to be driven by the anxiety of staking out a radical position.
An exhibition that directly addresses the notion of crossing boundaries is Drifter, a meticulously curated show, at Hionas Gallery, and organized by the artist and writer David Rhodes. Edited from Rhodes' words:
The migration of shape, form, color and material from one long established category to another... is a feature of new painting and sculpture... Territory is informally taken or exchanged... Vernacular materials often combine with fugitive color, the works here are happy in their homelessness and independent in a newfound openness that avails itself of historical tropes as much as the... present tense.*
Dennis Hollingsworth and Martha Clippinger are among the less well known (so far) artists in the show. Hollingsworth, who has one of the oddest pieces in the show, "Enfolded, Hidden" (though not quite as strange as his hothouse paint-flowers on view recently at Sargent's Daughters). Surrounded by black, two intersecting circles contain a spread of yellow and buff paint shmear, like flattened out construction glue on the bottom of a linoleum tile. Sprinkled throughout and within the circles are little sculptural star-blobs of paint, looking like something squeezed from a pastry tube. The confluence of these few elements evokes a wildly incongruent list of associations, not necessarily in this order: a view of microbial activity underneath a microscope, weird colored bacteria in Petri dishes, like the ones my father brought home and left in the fridge when he was a biochemist; the star-blobs suggest plastic stick-a-burs in flattened yellow winter grass; a bird's eye view of cartoon explosions peppered across a field, or strange Martian flora, as might be seen on an old science fiction magazine cover.