by Jacob Hicks
I had the opportunity to preview the exhibition Paperazzi 3 at Janet Kurnatowski Gallery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The show is a collection of 134 small works on paper by an array of mostly New York artists and is the latest in what has evolved into an annual event for the gallery.
When I arrived, Kurnatowski was inspecting and finalizing the art. The space, a deep white rectangle, has been newly and meticulously renovated. Its pristine walls lead to a back room for flat files that tease with the peeking eccentricities of any old and loved New York space.
My first glance of the curated walls left me with the distinct impression that the art had slowly and organically climbed, like some purposed vine, into location on its own accord. Kurnatowski’s solid curatorial decisions reveal a level of complex and mature visual thought. 90 percent of the work lives in the realm of formal abstraction, mimetic only to the internal observations and mental gesticulations of the artist; it is organized on the walls accordingly. Formal principals, color, shape, rhythm, size, and dimensionality orient one piece’s relation to another.
After a short period of looking, I was able to engage a resonate theme within the exhibition, and that is of independent, creative, and intimate life infused by each artist into a unique paper existence.
Paper is a mesh, a pulp of rag or wood fiber. Its structure speaks of organics, and its purpose generally speaks to process, to composition, and to construction. I usually do not associate it with a stable surface for finished works, because of its fragility. It is so often the medium of artistic musings and visual or verbal note-taking that tend to transmute into larger ideas. Kurnatowski is interested in showing these musings as points of connection to ongoing artistic process. In some instances they are fascinating peeks into larger ideas; in most instances the works are imbued with an ontological existence of their own. Though they might be bread crumbs to larger thoughts, these works find happy and complex lives existing as microcosms unto themselves.
Shane McAdams’ 9” by 12” sharpie ink-stained piece breathes like a bloody sunset or a red algae-choked pond. Like a miniature Helen Frankenthaler or Morris Louis color field, a decadent amber of hue glows in its own lack of object-hood, allowing and alluring the viewer into a dream within its primordial weightlessness.
Greg Lindquist’s work, Mono Lake Study, engages in post-humanist thought. His seemingly hand-articulated surrealist mountain/forest/cliff scape turns out to be a disguised laser print. It is a simulation of a gesture, and its existence places the machine within the fabric of a future notion of self and environment. Little ripples that I thought must be the hand’s imitation of water fluctuating against shore are a machine’s imitation of a hand’s imitation. The level of removal from the natural is jarring and faint enough to be missed without very close inspection, and I admire a work that requires intimate engagement.
Katinka Mann’s paper pulp sculpture May Have imitates felt, rawhide, and stucco wall patterning. The work wraps in and upon itself and is decidedly gestural and feminine. The sculpture, like an Eva Hesse rendition, combines inside and outside into a fractured mobius strip while casting rich, textured shadows.
Loren Munk’s intimidatingly intellectual/historical Neo-Ex-Matrix puts one’s left brain into action. It is sweeping but executed formally in a decidedly art-brut manner. Monk channels the unkempt scroll of a shaky child’s hand who tries, but cannot color inside the lines. These historical lines draw the visible musings of an engaged and engaging mind, searching history for a solid order.
Lily Koto Olive’s acrylic Corridor/Meeting Place uses undulating deep warm color to map out a doorway of unsteady, shakeable access. It is as if the whole image is a mirage on the tail-end of vanishing. A faint shadow suggests a visitor, like a reference to the meeting of Joachim and Anne in an old testament italian fresco, but the illusory nature of this meeting ground stifles and makes any viewer fragmented and uneasy.
Paperazzi succeeds in providing a community environment for connectivity among disparate artists, and additionally a venue to purchase affordable works. Paperazzi is an elegantly curated exhibition that offers critical engagement and connection in a smaller format.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jacob Hicks is a Brooklyn-based painter, writer and curator. His work has been exhibited at RH Gallery and Sloan Fine Arts in NYC, One Mile Gallery in Kingston, NY, Halle 14 in Leipzig, Germany, Dominican University in River Forest, IL, and Saint Elizabeth College in NJ. Jacob received his BFA from Southern Methodist University in Texas, and his MFA from the New York Academy of Art in NYC.