Revolution Gallery23257 Woodward
Ferndale, MI 48220
April 16 â€“ May 28, 2005
The first thing oneâ€™s attention is drawn to upon entering â€œSo Beautifulâ€ are Ann Arbor artist Thomas Rapaiâ€™s large, bright, expressive paintings of birds. While at first they come off as fairly realistic, extended viewing reveals them to be a bit cartoony or just plain odd in appearance, forcedly composed on blank backgrounds.
Perplexed a bit, we might turn our attention to ceramic objects perched on pedestals near the paintings. The work of Canadian artist Leopold Foulem, these have the immediate appearance of functional pottery â€“ vases perhaps; closer inspection shows them to exist as purely sculptural â€“ decorative. What look to be lids or openings are in fact seamlessly sealed â€“ these were never intended to be functional. Adorned with tightly rendered images of birds and flora, these speak to the decorative arts of a past period and kitsch mantel objects of recent years.
Foulemâ€™s objects status as mantel pieces not functional allows us to step back and take in the paintings again. These arenâ€™t paintings of birds at all, but rather paintings of ceramic hummels. The arrangement, the lack of background, all show these as the property of a ceramics collector, pieces that might be right at home alongside something like Foulemâ€™s ceramics.
So back once again to the ceramics and their decorative floral patterns. They mimic nature as pretty. One vase-form rises up, a blue rose arrangement fills the shape where real flowers would extend from such a vase were it functional. Both Foulem and Rapai play with the artifice of nature, seeking not to copy it, so much as to remark on the copying of it. Foulem mimics nature and functional sculpture, forging a territory all his own.
In Revolutionâ€™s second gallery, Albert G. Richardsâ€™ x-ray photographs of flowers hang along one wall. Unlike the previous works, these donâ€™t look at the outer beauty of nature, but the underlying structure and form, in the tradition set forth by Dâ€™Arcy Thompson in his seminal text, â€œOn Growth and Form.â€ Like Thompsonâ€™s work, Richards takes a visual look at the relationship between biology and functional design. Itâ€™s another chapter in the ongoing discussion of the mathematics of nature started in classical Greek times. These are both beautiful as observation of form and the pure photographic image.
Throughout both spaces, California artist Sarah Wagner displays plant â€œskins.â€ These are accurate representations of the outer forms of healing plants. These are not x-rays revealing the internal, but fabric shells â€“ pattern and form laid bare like line drawings in space. If these suffer, itâ€™s in how to display them so as to offset them from the space itself. Or maybe not. A snake skin discarded in the grass is compelling for its form once we stumble upon it. Perhaps these limp forms ask us to almost trample upon them, before taking a closer look and beginning to imagine the form they from which they are derived. Itâ€™s compellingly unique terrain to explore, and offers a rich insight into the form of plants in a similar, yet completely distinct manner as Richardsâ€™ photographs.
The artists for â€œSo Beautifulâ€ take a look at the beauty of the perceived appearance of nature and the beauty of the forms of nature. Each work shares a link to the others â€“ each informs and yet is quite dissimilar from the others â€“ making this a cohesive and well thought out exhibition. â€“ Nick Sousanis
No Pingbacks for this post yet...