"Victorian Ventilation" 2006 Watercolor on piered paper
Over all David Amobrose's show "Tropical Gothic" was a bit too repetitive and decorative for my taste. But his treatment of the paper, by dying it, then working the surface over with thousands of small colorful squiggles of watercolor paint and thousands of precise pin-holes creates a really interesting texture resembling fabric, with colors and patterns ebbing in and out.
One of Ambrose's paintings had also been included in the "Luxe, Calme, et Volupte" show curated by Joanne Matterra at the Marcia Wood Gallery in July. (See previous post here).
"Advancing Architecture in Umbria" 2007 Watercolor on pierced paper
This was definitely my favorite piece in the show. Ambrose painstakingly punctures the paper enough to remove large shapes, giving it a nice dimensionality and making the use of paper more interesting. I hope he continues pushing this process in his work to come.
See all of the small, precise lines? The surfaces are worked over meticulously.
The other half of the gallery was showing Monica Cook's "A Different Kind of Order."
These paintings are a labor of love though it seems Cook's skill as a painter is more on show than the subject matter of the painting. Each painting obsessively and perfectly depicts the textures of the body and different, gooey, sticky, glistening, edible substances coating the skin. The paintings toy with the senses and heighten the feeling of touch though sight.
What gets me are the cream backgrounds like studio backdrops, the compositions, the cropping, everything is done as a photograph would be executed. The paintings are almost trying to perfect painting to the point of making it disappear. For me, I don't see the point. There is a definite performance quality to the work and Cook is using a camera to document the moment and use as the source image for the painting. Why not get a large format camera and actually photograph these models as the finished work? What function is paint playing in these works?
The detail in the water droplets and foggy surface of the plastic bag are amazing. And the veins under the translucent skin are really emphasized.
My "why not show photographs?" argument could be rebutted with Cook's quote: "I find myself heightening the details on and in the flesh, which enhances the mortal presence of the sitter and creates a tension between the psychological complexity of the person and their raw humanness."
Both shows are up at Marcia Wood Gallery until Jan 14th 2008.