CORDY RYMAN RedSpiral 2009 41.5x36.5 72

“Toward the Third Dimension” Makes You An Actor with Art

David Floria Gallery in Aspen is a thumbnail-sized space, in which a show of two- dimensional works by 11 artists, often incorporating sculptural gestures and shapes, asks you right off to unbind your imagination. Pay little mind to how up close and personal you are, between gallery walls, to works that hang flush with their surface yet obtrude; are ultra-thin or pokey and dense; appear to hug their support yet also to bank.

Toward the Third Dimension, curated by Barbara Berger, is an ambitious show that eschews the space limitations by flouting art’s nature to de-categorize itself right on the cusp of being called a “painting” or “installation.”

Display-wise, as noted, David Floria Gallery is a very small space with a discrete window size. You’ll really have to step back out the door and look in that second floor window to have the experience of standing outside Jessica Stockholder’s kit-of-Rauschenberg homage, a bot of parts . Inside, Cordy Ryman’s terrific Red Spiral (2009), as if the barn boor wanted to become the figure five in gold, has a post-structuralist edge. There is nothing in common between this piece and “design,” say, despite the paint to the wood (red layers) relationship.

Theaster Gates, In the Event of Race Riot VII, 2011

 

Ryman has an unsimple rap going with Theaster Gates’s In the Event of Race Riot VII (2011) – which my eye keeps coming back to. A hose is finally the objet in the illusionistic depths of TG’s frame inside a frame, and again. But the hose though coiled is untaut, oval with a hiccup. Force without a spring that has intriguing tension, just as an illusion of punching through a crooked door makes the Ryman go that edge toward non-sense to become totally itself.

It’s an ineluctable habit, making visual comparisons. And maybe it was because I had  recently heard the term “Louise Nevelson”, about Aspen, that when I saw the Leonardo Drew, Number 150 (2011), it reminded me without cease of Louise Nevelson’s Cascade, except with too much of a poke-in-the-eye refusal of negative space. Tony Feher’s Untitled (2011) suite of 9 green glass bottles (s)toppered with 9 red glass marbles, I would have appended with a clear plexiglas lid (think cakebox), as if these elixirs themselves breathed pure air. Where a few of the works slide through the gallery, elegant though affectless, Garden Book, a stained oil diptych by Jody Guralnick, is intriguing both for pattern and structure. Guralnick affixed pop- decals in acrylic to the paint surface using steel pins. The painting is not a dress form, not a stretcher bar, but a sculpy. Guralnick’s decals are peeled off slightly wet. They have irregular forms and bright color. It’s a tactile ooze with a jewel quality.

Jody Guralnick, Garden Book, 2011

And then there’s a dullness right against that: the exhausted paper of a wasp nest restraining its dusty petticoat. Two garden books, literal spined volumes, make a shelf at the edge. On them the wasp nest is placed. The gesture on reflection seems almost wistful but the painting darts about energetically. It’s a fresh piece by Guralnick, an Aspen artist who this year also took part in the CVA Boulder show presenting Colorado and Chinese artists.

Leonardo Drew, No. 150, 2011

In other words, this show while small is powerful not least because of an ambitious premise and oftentimes, barely controlled energy as a leitmotif of the work.

August 2-September 5th; David Floria Gallery, Aspen.

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