jeudi 2 octobre 2008

Sarah Braman. Wendy White.

Sarah Braman (Museum 52, New York)

Portland Honeymoon (found objects, paint)

Sleeping Out Summer Night, truck cap, radio, plexi, fabric, wood, linoleum, paint (millieu),
Love Song (soft rock)
, found furniture, linoleum, mirror, paint (arrière plan)

TV in bed, (found furniture, plexi, foam, paint)

Love Songs
Braman allows the incongruous to coalesce with an elegant, human clumsiness. She has an instinctive admiration for inept materials. The works in the show combine found furniture, linoleum, a camping tent and car panels with wood, plexiglas and paint. Braman appears to work without inhibition, second-guessing or self-consciousness. Each material, as with a fault or quality in a lover, is celebrated equally for its flaws and its successes. It is as if she approaches the works with the same mix of vehemence and disregard of someone penning a love song. The materials used have a sense of lost and found or something fallen and risen again. The instinctual manner of her process is akin to the inherent resourcefulness of a child building a den or the dislocated building a new home. Braman embraces the very human need and ability to reconstruct and piece together. Her work acts likes gestures towards shelter. Creating intimate volumes she reformulates materials and space for the better. In one of the sculptures an unattached, thick, foam rectangle sits beneath an off kilter square formed from a large sheet of plexi and a half broken, half cut desk. The form becomes both a refuge and an empty volume. By intuitively adding paint to the sculptures, Braman emphasizes this divide in the formal reading. The paint presents another human need to decorate and embellish, as well as highlighting structural elements such as joints and surfaces. It is as if, in the departure of the sculptures into abstraction, Braman gives a reminder of the hand that put them there. This is not sculpture based on either/or decisions. Beautifully composed interlocking planes, and subtle contrasts of light and color are built of roughly cut materials, balanced on awkward angles, loosely painted and combined with sagging cloth. The works are not concerned with all that is wrong and all that is right with sculpture, but instead oppose such finitudes, allowing a freedom to exist within the knowledge that the finite has been decided for us anyway.

Roberta Smith:
In its extensive use not only of found materials, but also of found furniture, Sarah Braman’s latest contests between painting and sculpture are larger and more ambitious, if also a little more generic. Her tilted structures now incorporate parts of desks, shelves and car panels, a device that makes them more difficult to understand from any single position. The greater complexity also creates more opportunities for applied color and brushwork, which, in turn, coax you to circumnavigate the pieces. The resulting unfolding and interplay of hand-made and mass-produced is unexpectedly rewarding, although it would be better if the level of slovenliness were lower.

Wendy White (Leo Koenig Inc., New York)

Autokennel, 2007, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, metal and softball

Pile Driver, 2008, Acrylic on canvas

Wendy White’s compositions utilize a distinctive abstract language that alludes to the bombardment of the everyday. Urban sprawl, space junk, graffiti, buried hazardous material, and the accumulation of refuse are punctuated by heavy black areas that map a direct trail from the ubiquitous to the subconscious. Unafraid to conjure real feeling and emotion in these works, White gives new form to the bombast of rock concerts and the mass elation of sports arenas. Built organically and intuitively, these works balance accident and scrappy paint handling with compositional coherence. While White seems to work with reckless abandon, her off-kilter compositions prove well considered with time, though perhaps deliberately confounding. Just when one begins to get involved in a lush patch of painterly abstraction, a field of blank white canvas, almost large enough to topple the composition, is encountered. Flatness combats depth, black is balanced against white, and fluorescent colors fade and emerge on top of a surface that is consistently finessed.

Jerry Saltz:
There are so many artists inspired by Christopher Wool, Albert Oehlen, and Charlene Von Heyl right now that you’d think those people were Greek Gods. While many of their imitators’ work can look dandy-like and mannered in its nonchalance and quasi-expressionism, a number of younger folks are hitting pay dirt. One is Wendy White, who balances wildness and withholding, with a dose of something almost diabolically planned. She delivers three punches at once: Color, graffiti-like agility, and formal structure. This prevents her work from looking angsty, imitative, and fake. Her paintings have a presence the reminds one of billboards and websites, something at once physical and disembodied.

Jennifer Coates:
Wendy White’s debut show at Leo Koenig features paintings made of multiple canvases abutting each other, as though the frantic activity that splays across them can barely be contained. Airbrushed passages recalling graffiti tags create sooty densities that are offset by large expanses of white. Bits of fluorescent colors appear here and there, glowing like toxic embers. White’s technique ranges from sprays and smears to taped-out areas that have been painted over, leaving a glyphlike residue that evokes the relationship between the written mark and the painted one. White places sculptures assembled from found materials beside her paintings, creating a theater where real life is pulverized into abstraction. The objects, which look like they come from a 99¢ store, provide a reference point for the paintings, preventing them from seeming too utopian, while allowing the possibility for narrative readings. In Autokennel, a softball sits atop a metal rod in front of three frenzied canvases, as if to say that the paint has been pitched out or run around the bases of a game. A small white-and-black soccer ball juts out next to Mrs. Dash, invoking the speed and aggression of the World Cup. The brushstrokes seem to track the ball’s trajectory as players struggle to get it into the goal. Athletic and spastic, White’s work sparks with style and energy like Ab Ex on Gatorade.

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