Saturday, September 8, 2007

Wallpaper

I was lured to the Fay Gold Gallery opening Friday night for a show of two painters from outside Atlanta with good looking resumes and good looking show images. I was disappointed though as both painters seemed to stay in the safe, salable zone of decoration. Undoubtedly, interior designers and buckhead betties were enthralled by the painting ability and wise choice of color palettes, but for me the works did not go beyond the surface level.

Melissa Herrington (above) was described in the gallery press release as: "Herrington’s new paintings continue to examine her theme of identity. Dark, silhouetted figures and animals populate a dense and abstract landscape. At first glance, these simplified forms appear na├»ve however, the perceived innocence is ambiguous. They are fragments of dreams that have been reduced to their bare essence, distinct within the confines of the painting."
Sorry but I don't buy it, "fragments of dreams" is a sweet way of saying "designer friendly, non-confrontational, and an all-round family pleaser, looks great in a dentist office or law firm lobby and guaranteed not to make anyone uncomfortable or question their identity."

The work of Andrew Winn was an odd combination of tight paint handling over-layed with a messy, abstract expressionist flare for wielding a palette knife. It was a tricky merging that seemed on the verge of something interesting and unsettling but never quite delivered. Instead the two styles of paint handling were executed too independently of one another and without enough thought given to the space within.

Next was the "Gallery * Light * Rug" show of three installations by Mehmet Dogu at whitespace gallery. I had heard enough about the ambitions behind the show to be very intrigued to see it, and it was definitely a spectacle worth checking out, though I am not so sure I have been able to wrap my mind completely around the concepts or results of the installations.

In the first room, all of the wall panels and additional panels on the ceiling and floor are covered in small, floating, circular photographs. Interestingly, the photographs are of architectural details of the gallery itself and the surrounding garden area. Dogu is also an architect and through his installations works with the relationship between images (i.e. photographs) and the space in which they are presented. Dogu argues that the image often over-shadows the architecture that displays it and he seeks to reverse this by creating a dialogue between the two, each enhancing the other. (I am sure there is more to Dogu's concepts than my brief explanation but that is all I can remember from reading the artist's statement.)

I wonder though, if Dogu's installations did not fall into the same trap he was trying to eliminate. If the display of the artwork is meant to make the viewer more aware of the fascinating architecture of the whitespace gallery, why were the images confined within the rectangular wall panels that all artwork is typically displayed on in the gallery? Further, the distraction of the brightly colored walls and large quantity of photographs in repetitive shapes tended to blind the viewer from being able to see anything else. I say this considering the wall panels to be more a part of the artwork, serving as frames, than as part of the brick walls that they float over.
Perhaps the dialogue between image and architecture was not meant to take place in the details of the architecture but instead within the space of the photograph itself, which was a photograph of the architecture. This is limiting again because the representation of the architecture is being appropriated by a circular image that completely recontextualizes the subject matter to the point that I did not even realize the images were of the actual gallery until someone told me. In a sense, this display only shows more clearly how the photograph itself has the power to over-shadow architecture (or any other subject matter represented in the image).


In the next room, the "Rug" installation seemed more successful at giving attention to the actual space of the room. (The rug being an interesting choice of object to represent considering that rugs are usually used to cover/hide architecture, not enhance it) The "Rug" was made of photographs mounted on mirrors. A spot light was point down towards the reflective panels and created an interesting pattern of light reflected back to the ceiling - almost reversing space and putting the rug overhead.

The photographs seemed inconsequential to the resulting effect of the installation and made me wonder how differently the show would have felt if all photographs had been replaced with mirrors. In a sense, a mirror is an image but completely dependent on the space around it.

The night was topped off with desert at Top Floor, on 3rd and Myrtle in Midtown, who delivered their mysteriously spicy ice cream in cool antique dishes.

And they have a groovy wallpaper that got all the more interesting with each glass of wine.


The show at Fay Gold Gallery runs through Oct 5th, 2007 and Gallery*Light*Rug at whitepace runs through Oct 6th, 2007.

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