Art Sales and Research is pleased to announce “Structure,” a group exhibition with six intergenerational artists working across painting, drawing, weaving, and ceramic sculpture. The artists are: Anne Brown, Nicole Cherubini, Fabienne Lasserre, James Little, Margie Neuhaus, and Natasha Sweeten.
In the loose spirit of a summer group show, “Structure” is a term here meant to provide multiple meanings and flexible functions. It serves as both noun and verb, referring to a form taken as both a prerequisite and an end point, and the acts of placing, applying, building, and weaving.
In the case of paintings and graphic work, for instance, the prerequisite structure is most often a rectangle which serves as a primary figure and a field upon and within which other figures, marks, and shapes are arranged into a composition which is itself a structure enacted upon the prerequisite structure of the rectangular page or stretched canvas. In sculpture we are more readily inclined to think of structure as the thing itself, but here too there is a gap to be closed from apprehending “structuring” as a means the artist employs to reach the structure of the final form. That distance is experienced as a temporality, and in both sculptural and pictorial arts the pace with which we read constituent parts into wholes and break them down again is itself experienced as a structuring of time, a kind of choreographing of perception engaged by the artist.
And here’s the funny thing, the artist may not even be aware of doing it, just of the effort and care given to make the artwork look right, or good. But what is right or good carries within it a frisson of instability, an unfinishing that backs away from an irretrievably static finish and returns us to the experience of precarious becoming, back and forth we go. It’s the “art” part that the artist intuitively knows and wants to lead us into: the deconstruction of structure. If architecture is “frozen music” an artwork is, too: a fractal chip off the old block.
The artists included span a range between painting, sculpture, and textile. Their work either emblematizes structure in geometric compositions or depends on it for material coherence. The even modularity of the graphic grid is present, of course, but elegantly stressed in Natasha Sweeten’s paintings that subject it to stretching and bending before chopping it up into ideographic bits that suggest an asemic alphabet shaken out of a dice cup.
Margie Neuhaus exposes elements of the grid in her drawings and watercolors, which sometimes seem to oscillate like vertical sound patterns and at other times directly invoke her weavings of raw silk and linen paper, which resemble a graphic line turned into some kind of grass as it bunches into the weft of her small, lively swatches.
Grid structures enlivened by diagonals are a mainstay of James Little’s minimalist pattern paintings. In One For Eddie (2000), the dry pigment image of toned color rays emanating from the lower left corner of the page is like one module of a grid lifted like a single tile out of a larger pattern. Little has observed that bricklaying was a family trade and that he feels its influence in his grid-based patterns to this day.
Fabienne Lasserre occupies a zone between painting, drawing and sculpture, pointedly breaking away from the compositional container of the rectangle into circles, triangles and tensile extrusions into space. Luscious colors spill across perimeters and fill shapes, but a Felliniesque attenuation is always the play.
More intimately, Anne Brown has also been drawn to attenuation and color, as well as the transformation of structures. In the scale of jewelry her empty spaces are meant to be filled by the wearer. In her assemblage piece " Breakdown" from 2002, an accumulation of fragmented styrofoam cups transform visually into an abstract painting. Her larger scale sculptures find an interior, monochromatic monumentality in pieces of worn driftwood that might be brooded upon for years before arriving at the angle of placement on their base.
Nicole Cherubini reminds us that clay work is often the opposite of the attenuated three-dimensionality explored by Lassere and Brown in that it often involves enclosure as opposed to unpeeling outward. The inside of a pot, an urn, or an architectural miniature (or architecture itself) holds a mystery to the gaze. Cherubini’s standing vessels compensate for their dimension of unknowability through rich exteriors, like a grotto turned from concave to convex: glazes oozing like cream across the terra cotta ribs of her coil construction, ringlets of more clay rhythmically thumbed around the top half of her forms, black smudges like charcoal or ash on the lower halves. If Brown’s jewelry invokes absent bodies, Cherubini’s urns are bodies.