Ghada Amer, Black Torment & Black Absence 2005 (Embroidery and gel medium on canvas), Piero Golia Untitled (12 x 30 in. Monochrome) 2007 (Painted wood and wood pedestal). Jim Lambie Y-Footo 2002 (Mattress and silver vinyl tape)
Monochromatic works made on or with alternative materials. Using a Piero Manzoni achrome kaolin painting on gravel glued to board as a starting point, the various works in the show all explore unconventional or traditionally non “high art” materials such as coal dust, carpet, fabric, embroidery, tar, plastic and sand. These materials are often used together with more traditional art making materials such as paint, ink, canvas and wood. For some of the artists, the atypical materials have become part of their primary working methods, for others they represent one series or facet of their art-making.
Ghada Amer, John Armleder, Bozidar Brazda, Piero Golia, Thilo Heinzmann, Gregor Hildebrandt, Mike Kelley, Jim Lambie, Paul Lee, Glenn Ligon, Lovett/Codagnone, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Donald Sultan and Eric Wesley
The work in these shows is not always in complete agreement; usually a dissenter or two takes a stand for intricate craftsmanship, language or narrative. Bortolami’s “Substance & Surface,” though, is nearly unanimous: it takes the Modernist monochrome as its not-so-sub subtext. Given the long history of corrupting the monochrome, it shouldn’t be as interesting as it is. The show’s vitality may reflect a good theme-to-variation ratio. Nearly everything here has corners and a single color, and adheres to the wall, if only by a cable, like Bozidar Brazda’s “Idle Idol,” a dangling television set sprayed with orange car paint. But substances and surfaces vary. The combinations include paint, sand, cassette tape, tile or silver vinyl tape, on carpet, paper, canvas, plywood or mattress. Sly allusions to artistic elders occur. With three perpendicular slices in a black bath towel, Paul Lee ingeniously evokes black-and-white panels by Ellsworth Kelly. Historical precedents are here too: Piero Manzoni’s small rectangle of pebbles painted white, from 1959; John Armleder’s green pegboard, from 1984; and Donald Sultan’s new hulking black painting in the tar and spackle he has used since the 1970s. Piero Golia’s piece resembles a small white biomorphic sculpture on a wood pedestal that has been installed sideways on the wall. It looks like a substance seceding from its surface.
In These Shows, the Material Is the Message By ROBERTA SMITH, August 10, 2007
Bozidar Brazda's 2007 Idle Idol is as mischievous as its title: A big, boxy TV set hangs inside a net of steel cables suspended from a metal armature. Spray-painted bright orange, it hovers dumbly above the floor, shorn of its original purpose but still as metaphorically loud and blunt as much of the content it once conveyed. Quieter drama is slowly revealed in John Armleder's sheet of pegboard painted a wan shade of green. Beige dots appear in some areas, where the perforated masonite is affixed to a wooden frame; elsewhere, the holes reveal subtly shifting shadows in the space between the surface and the wall. Whether it's Jim Lambie's mattress swathed in duct tape or Paul Lee's black bath towel, roughly cut out of its edge seams to form a ghost of itself on the white wall, all of the works in this fascinating show prove that, indeed, beauty may be only skin deep, but sometimes that's more than enough.