Sunday, March 05, 2006

Marco Maggi

Yesterday I saw the Margo Maggi show at Hosfelt (SF) and found it dispiriting. Many of the pieces on display were part of his grid series, where stacks of white paper are cut through (by machine, presumably) to create grids that look like sash window frames. A final piece of paper, white on one side and printed with a color image on the other, is inserted in the stack or at the back of the stack, white side forward. This paper contains cuts and foldouts that are framed by the grid; bits of color show on the foldouts. The grid itself sometimes undergoes cutting, as if it has been eaten away. I did not respond to the grid works in an earlier show, and still don't. To my eye, the heavy grid overwhelms the incidents of cutting and folding. This problem is avoided in a few small pieces where the cut in the stack creates a single opening that frames the sheet that has the cuts and foldouts. But the charm of these few pieces tended to get lost in the glut of work.

In another room, there was a grid of small pieces set on the floor. These were more of the grid pieces, but they were encased in acrylic boxes so that the fronts and backs could be seen. They looked like a low-slung graveyard. The floor arrangement, where you would need to lie on the floor to see details, was tried previously in a New York show. A lesson should have been learned. By the way, the floor pieces (and others) use images of works by famous artists as the colored "back" of the paper into which cuts and foldouts are made. The famous names are cited in the titles of the pieces. This seemed more like name dropping than real engagement with those artists.

In yet another room, there were stacks of white paper arranged in (yes!) a grid, like low pedestals, on the tops of which were more sheets featuring cuts and foldouts. The top sheets did not lie flat on the precise stacks, a disconcerting effect. Finally, in a back gallery, there were a few pieces in other styles that seemed unrelated to the main thrust of the show; these included a large fine drawing on Yupo paper. As I walked away from the gallery, I passed first one pair of homeless people and then another, a woman who was trying to help a man put on some shoes. I don't believe that art needs to perform social work, but these sights seemed to emphasize the triviality that has crept into Maggi's work.

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