Color: Field and Form, Part 8

Part 2: Estrada-Vega, Johnston, Korman, Gimblett  
Lisa Hoke and Martin Klein
New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut.

Lisa Hoke, The Gravity of Color, 2008; plastic and paper cups, paint and hardware, installed  at the museum

I was in Connecticut recently at the New Britain Museum of American Art and spent some time viewing the collection. My two favorite contemporary pieces were the ones I'm showing you here: an installation by Lisa Hoke and a painting by Martin Kline, both on view now with no closing date indicated.
Approaching Hoke's installation from the first floor, you see an enormous, organic, apparently beaded construction on the landing. Flanked on one side by an enormous wall of light, it almost seems to float in its space. I've photographed it from several vantage points, where you see it  punctuated by a Chihuly hanging sculpture. (I'm not normally a fan of the glassmeister, but here it worked.)
In a second-floor gallery featuring recent acquisitions, there was a fabulous neon-pink sculptural painting by Martin Kline. The trifecta of Hoke, Chihuly and Kline, each with their over-the-top color and literally off-the-wall form, has injected a shot of Five Hour Energy into this already energetic series.
Here's a view from the stairs leading to the second floor and, below, a view from a bit higher up, which gives you a broader view of the three-wall installation
Of course the "beads" are not beads at all. But the surprise is that they are plastic cups, some colored with paint on the inside

Below: A shot from the landing gives you a sense of the topographical depth of the work. (I have also written about Hoke's work here and here)

Here we transition from Lisa Hoke, above, to Martin Kline, below. Each artist employs one element, repeated endlessly, to create rugged topographies with an elegant gestalt. Where Hoke uses those plastic cups, Kline uses encaustic--pigmented wax--built up brush stroke by brush stroke, into almost mushroom-like forms that project from the surface of a plywood ground. Electric color charges the organic forms, "nature" in the hands of a higher power: the artist.

Martin Kline, installation view of Empoisonner, 2001-2007, encaustic on panel

Fresh off a solo exhibition here, Kline is represented in the permanent collection by this ecstatically pink work that is tipped in cyan (see detail above). Up close the combination stimulates the retina into a visual buzz; from a distance, as here, it creates an aura that amplifies the dimensionality of the painting.
One of the things I respond to in Kline's work is the way he plies beauty against utility, and the way he allows process to be revealed. That gorgeous sculptural surface emerges from a modest plywood ground. Paint drips dot the surface, at one spot even falling over the frame. Using a medium that is prized (and sometimes reviled) for its seductive beauty, Kline creates perfection--and imperfecttion--on his own terms.
Using plastic throwaways, Hoke comes from the opposite direction to do exactly the same thing. That middle ground, wow.

Closer view of Kline's Empoissoner


Roberta Warshaw said...

Wow. I really did think those were beads. I am always amazed by what an artist can do with unconventional materials.

Louise P. Sloane said...

Thanks for this posting.. I'm eager to see Lisa's work when I go up to the museum to see my own work installed in the permanent collection there.

Nancy Natale said...

Another great post in the series, Joanne! I saw these works in person and was enthusiastic about both installations. I think the plastic cups were the most amazing. I loved the mix of the painted with the printed cups equaling an exhilarating workout for the eyes.

Norma Schlager said...

I saw this exhibit in person. It truly is amazing!

Linda Steele said...

Amazing, thanks for showing us. I thought it had to be beads.

Ann Shostrom said...

Thanks for sharing a real gem by Lisa Hoke. Will have to make my way to New Britain.

CMC said...

Whoa... I LOVED the shots you made of the cups. My fav part. Thanks, Joanne.

Anonymous said...

The Kline piece is just stunning. Thank you so much for these posts.

Lynda Ray said...

these are great shots Joanne. Close up like this I have a better understanding of how they are made.
Chihuly was here in Richmond, now it's time for Hoke.