2.08.2012

Transcendence Times Two: Lori Ellison at

McKenzie Fine Art, Tantric Paintings at Feature Inc.
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Lori Ellison, Untitled, 2011, gouache on wood panel, 10 x 8 inches.
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In description, two current exhibitions of small works couldn’t sound more different: One, eye-bendingly complex, is idiosyncratic and personal, the work of a New Yorker, made over the past several years. The other, quietly reductive, is traditional and codified, the work of anonymous painters in Rajasthan, India, over the past several years. Yet both are utterly transcendent.

At Feature Inc., Anonymous tantric painting; Legend: The spiral of energy in the sky of consciousness inside a Shiva linga; Bikaner, Rajasthan, 2007
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Panoramic view of two walls of the exhibition at Feature Inc., which gives you a sense of the scale of the paintings.
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Feature Inc. on the Lower East Side is showing Anonymous Tantra Paintings, up through Sunday. I wrote about a previous show of Tantra paintings here, so in this post let me say that these images are meant to enhance meditation. The images, refined over the centuries to a system of colors and symbols, are abstract depictions of the union of opposites—yin and yang, positive and negative—but to a gallerygoer’s eye they are satisfyingly contemporary. Since most viewers are unlikely to be Tantra practitioners, it is the minimal esthetic that appeals. Simple geometric shapes with an admittedly mysterious aura are painted in velvety tempera or gouache on what is described as “found paper.” The result is another union of opposites: rich and poor. I could look at them all day.
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Legend: Energy traveling through and regulating the colors of the world; Udaipur, Rajasthan, 2008
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Legend: Shiva Linga; Bikaner, Rajasthan, 2002
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Legend: Kali's tongues; near Udaipur, Rajasthan, 1999
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Legend: The three gunas: matter, energy, essence; Jaipur, Rajasthan, 1990.
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Legend: The world's two poles united; Jodhpur, Rajasthan, 1997
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Meanwhile, McKenzie Fine Art in Chelsea is showing a solo exhibition of ballpoint-pen-on-paper drawings and gouache-on-panel paintings by Lori Ellison, up through this Saturday. Ellison’s images are complex compositions, each one consisting of one repeated geometric or organic element. Yes, they're obsessive; that's what makes them so compelling. Their great gift is the way they require you to slow down to observe each permutation of each element. A field of  meandering triangles in dark green ink, for instance, is more than just pattern; different sizes and angles fracture the plane into a woozy crystalline field. In another, blue ovals assemble perspectivally into a beckoning portal. A flatter image contains the infinite convolutions of a lobed drawing which, constrained by the blue perimeter of the paper, fairly vibrates with energy.

While the paintings have some of this same vibrational presence—the vertiginous work that opens this post seems every bit as tantric as the Tantric painting below it—it is the drawings, especially, that hum. It seems clich√©d to call them mesmerizing, and yet, you find yourself in their thrall. Let me clarify: you realize this when you come back from wherever it is they've sent you. .
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Corner view in the large exhibition space of Ellison's show at McKenzie Fine Art, which gives you a sense of the scale of the work
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Untitled, 1999, ink on paper, 11 x 8.5 inches
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Untitled, 2008, ink on paper, 11 x 8.5 inches
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Untitled, 2000, ink on paper, 11 x 8.5 inches
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Continuing clockwise around the large gallery; a wall of paintings, many on shaped panels, is at right. The large painting in the center of the wall is below.
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Frondly, 1998, oil on wood panel, 31.5 x 21 inches.
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Below are works installed on other walls around the gallery. Click here to see the gallery's installation shots

Untitled, 1998, ink on paper, 11 x 8.5 inches
(Reader, I bought it)
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Untitled, 2005, ink on paper, 11 x 8.5 inches
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Untitled, 2002, ink on paper, 11 x 8.5 inches
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Untitled, 2009, gouache on wood panel, 14 x 11 inches


16 comments:

Debu Barve said...

Thanks Joanne for this wonderful post.

hamlett dobbins said...

great!

Paul Behnke said...

Great Stuff!

Kim Schrag said...

Thanks for these images, they happen to be very close to what I have been drawn to(by)myself.

Anonymous said...

"vibrational presence" Joanne thank you for saying that . I thought I was a going a little crazy when art makes me feel, see and hear certain Things that are invisible.

Very powerful images!

Carole said...

Thank you for this post Joanne. Great works.

Tamar said...

Wonderful post. I love the connections that you draw between the Tantric paintings and Ellison's work.

Cynthia Nicole said...

thank you for this presentation

Nancy Natale said...

Very beautiful and powerful. Both groups of works really resonate. Lori's work is spectacularly beautiful in a quiet and meditative way. No wonder you had to buy one. Congratulations!

Diane McGregor said...

Marvelously juxtaposed work that resonates with spirit and ritual. I was familiar with both bodies of work, yet drawing them together here on this blog has made me marvel: "why didn't I think of that?" Thanks for thinking of it, Joanne!

Mery Lynn said...

What I appreciate about both is their absence of "conceptual heft" (as one reviewer noted about Ellison's work). They aren't preaching or trying to impress. They simply are. BTW I emptied out my miniscule savings account and bought one of Ellison's gouache pieces. It's an honor to own it.

Elena said...

Thank you for sharing these shows, especially together. There really is some kind of common thread running through the both.They feel like they support each other.

About Connie Goldman said...

A perfect pairing for a review. Excellent.

CMC said...

Just wonderful, Joanne... thanks for sharing them with us.

Jane Guthridge said...

you're right, there is something about this work that lingers

Ted Stanuga said...

Wonderful, thank you.