2.03.2010

Cloth? Not

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Susanna Starr: Untitled (Folded Doily), 2007, handcut maple and mahogany wood veneer, cable, 45 x48x6 inches; image courtesy of Marcia Wood Gallery

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The splendid image that opens this post arrived last week via email from the Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta. It’s the work of Susanna Starr, a New York-based artist who’s having her first solo there, Not So Domestic. If you look closely, you can see that it’s not a textile at all but tissue-thin wood veneer that’s been cut into a simulacrum of a doily and draped over a rod. I love it!
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This piece started me thinking about Linda Besemer’s no-substrate acrylic paintings, which are also draped over a rod; of David Ambrose's perforated gouaches that compress architecture and textiles into exquisite rectangles of art history; and of my my own small reductive color fields of encaustic on panel, which assume some semblance of silk. Things developed from there . . .
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Starr's installation view at the Marcia Wood Gallery
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Carving the veneer with a penknife and then oiling its surface, the artist transforms the anachronistic doily into a larger-than-life object--an anti antimacassar, you might call it--which she describes this way: "The doily has gone wild and the wood has been fully domesticated."
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I love how Starr's works relate visually to . . ..
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. . . David Ambrose, Advancing Architecture in Umbria, 2007, watercolor or pierced paper, 60 x 45 inches . . ..
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. . . and Linda Besemer, pure acrylic painting, draped over dowel, at Angles Gallery, Santa Monica, at Pulse Miami, 2008.
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Clytie Alexander, perforated aluminum, from her solo Diaphans, at Betty Cunningham Gallery, February 2009.
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Detail below
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Nobu Fukui's high-intensity geometry partly veiled with a scrim of embedded pearl beads, at his solo at the Stephen Haller Gallery, Fall 2009.
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Detail below
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Ambrose again: Charlemagne's Chapel, 2005, watercolor on paper, 44 x 30 inches, from the artist's website
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Liz Hager, Strawberry Fields, gouache on paper, 10 x 8 inches, from a series called Imaginary Textiles on the artist's website
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Hager's work, as well as that of Barbara Ellmann, below, are reminiscent of Indian chintz and of the the woven and printed textiles, many with fruit and flower themes, from Central Asia, where decorative elements flourished in lieu of representation..
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Barbara Ellmann, River Town, 2006, encaustic on board, 24 x 24 inches, from the artist's website.
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Grace DeGennaro, gouache on okawara paper, each app. 24 x 16 inches; these from my post on her work, Wellspring

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De Gennaro's themes, particularly the tree of life, are familiar on carpets througout India and the Middle East. However, the transparency of the paper and the luminosity of the color call to mind swatches of sari fabric--and legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland's cultural observation that "Pink is the navy blue of India."
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Tim Bavington at the Jack Shainman Gallery, September 2009.
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Bavington's work is drawn from music. Here's New York Art Beat on his show at Shainman: "Taking music as a starting point, Bavington translates chords, notes, guitar necks and solos into visual systems by approximating their equivalents in color and then spraying them with synthetic polymer onto canvas."
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While it may not have been intentional, Bavington's painting is nevertheless visually akin to the ikat fabrics that are woven throughout Japan, Southeast Asia and Central Asia. To make an ikat cloth, the weaver (or dyer) colors the vertical warp threads in a particular pattern or sequence so that when the threads are woven, the resulting fabric features a vertically oriented, often flame-like pattern. Cloths with this kind of loose-limbed pattern come from Samarkand in Uzbekistan, Central Asia, a major stop on that fabled caravan route from China to Venice known as the Silk Road. Which brings us to my own work, the series Silk Road, whose color is built up from layers of translucent paint and whose surface has evolved to suggest the grain and shimmer of slubbed silk..
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Joanne Mattera, Silk Road 69, 2006, encaustic on panel, 12 x 12 inches .
Below: Studio wall, late 2009, before the work went to Metaphor Contemporary Art. See more here, here and here
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More: If you read this blog regularly, you know that I often talk about the textile sensibility that runs through some of contemporary art. A couple of recent posts on the topic can be found in my reporting from the 2009 Miami art fairs: Five Woven Grids and Pulling a Thread, and from the 2009 Armory Fair in New York, Sew Me the Money.
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6 comments:

Rooney said...

I chanced upon to view your blog and found it very interesting. Great ... Keep it up!

anne mcgovern said...

Wow! What amazing, innovative and just plain beautiful work. Thanks again, Joanne.

Sky Pape said...

Thanks for the back story on your arrival at the title "Silk Road" for your series.

When I saw the first images of this post, artist Aric Obrosey came to mind as having a kinship with this sensibility.

Nancy Natale said...

Beautiful work. The veneer doily is great! Thanks, Joanne

Mary Birmingham said...

Joanne, what a fabulous "show" you've curated here. It's a real treat, thanks!

Joanne Mattera said...

Thanks, All, for your kind words.