Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gay Outlaw & Dean Smith @ Paule Anglim

Alert: This exhibition is scheduled to close on 12/16/06.

In the current show at Gallery Paule Anglim, an apt pairing of artists creates a welcome interplay between the back and front gallery spaces. Though practicing in different media, the artists share an interest in abstraction, repetitive forms, precise craft, and the strategy of a restricted palette.

Gay Outlaw (her real name) is a sculptor who likes the floor, so it is a shame that the floor in this case is covered with aged gray industrial carpet. Her work seems uneasy on this background. Among the floor pieces, my favorite is a wavy lattice, about 6 feet long, that resembles a CAD 3D drawing. The material is wool felt in colors of cream and dark green (photo below).

Another floor piece, made of glass, also uses wave forms and the color green (photo below). This size of this work is described as “variable,”and it might look better in a layout different than five-by-ten, as used here. But that aside, I sense the piece is too small for its own good.

Moving off the floor, Outlaw has placed a fine “Cube Study with Shadow” on a shelf (photo below). The piece is 14" wide. An interesting feature of this work is the use of milk paint for the shadow. It's an old-fashioned, eco-friendly type of paint.

Even further from the floor, indeed hanging from the ceiling, is Outlaw's de-masculinized “re-do” of a 1959 sculpture by Claes Oldenburg, depicting a ray gun. Her version, about 30" tall, is pictured at the top (image from gallery website). The original, about 45" tall, is shown below (image from MOMA website).

The show also includes a selection of Outlaw's photocollages. These are respectable but hardly on the level of her sculpture.

In the back room, Dean Smith holds his own with a varied set of drawings on paper. One of them sports a big fluorescent green disk that is built from a latticework like Outlaw’s felt sculpture. The second photo below shows the detail. Since much of the impact of this work derives from its luminescence, I wondered how soon the ink would fade. It seems a valid concern for a drawing priced at $6,900. (But it sold.)

Along with brightly colored works, there are also several of Smith’s signature graphite drawings, including "focusing #2" (photo below, followed by a detail).

The exhibition seems a bit detached from the aesthetic rambunctiousness of the current art scene. But sometimes it’s good to have a calm moment.

No comments: