DENVER – June 3, 2012 –
Material Abstraction, at Robiscon Gallery from May 17 through June 30, 2012, shows this gallery has a knack for putting artworks together in a way that each compliments the others. The very compatible paintings by Lisa Stefanelli and sculptures of Linda Fleming in their main gallery look as if they might have been made to go together.
Continuous, art-nouveauy lines make up all of the pieces on show by these two artists, and all are done in a clean, precise manner that exudes peace even though the marks are busy. Their beauty, assembled in one big room, inspires contemplation, but one group of sculptures excels.
Fleming’s sculpture are slightly more compact forms of the curvilinear lines that Stefanelli uses. All are precisely cut out of metal and then chrome- or color-coated. They remind me of the paper dollies I used when I was a kid to make school valentines. Some, like Portal, are one plane, cut from one sheet of metal. Fleming’s most interesting pieces are multiple planes.
These tend toward hard edged forms because they’re assembled from sheet. The orange sculpture in the first photo is an example of the artist’s attempt to mitigate that tendency, but her most interesting sculptures are ones that accept the sharp edges.
The angled forms assembled in Pinnacle make a fascinating whole and reduce the soft lines back to a texture – an improvement – making these forms more than decorative. They become attention-getting objects. Their flaw is the artist’s use of acorn nuts to assemble the planes. These interrupt the peace and strength of the forms with staccato bumps.
If you can ignore that annoyance and get to the peace and contemplation, these sculptures start offering more than pretty. Do they tell us the truth about the massacres in Syria?
No, but as their insides glow, the interior color vibrates in contrast to the outside, we are drawn to the insides – imagine seeing the inside of ourselves if we were the ones shot through or stabbed like the people killed in the Syrian village of Houla. Our softness represented by the soft, vibrating colors contrast the sharp, complex form.
And while the pieces appear to have the texture of a tire tread, they are actually smooth, an abstract texture defined by line. We read the lines from the outside, but they appear so different inside. And when we watch the President of Syria talk about these massacres you wonder what is really going on inside his head, what he really knows, how actively he is looking inside the events to find the truth. A very smooth suited shape outside, same skin on both sides, but not really transparent to viewers. Neither, are the opposition forces who don’t get to show themselves on International news. Nor is the country, in general. The lines that make the texture of these sculptures say nothing more literal to me than the Arabic I hear the people speaking about these event, but I can read the energy.
These works do not make political statements, or tell us ‘who dunnit’ – and you may be offended by my reaching for such strong images – but these sculptures offer an opportunity to look at things differently, in a way we haven’t looked before, or have forgotten, to inform us when we are reading the news and wonder what’s really going on inside.