(Published on DansPapers.com, April 3, 2014)
The current exhibition at The Drawing Room in East Hampton touches that fine area of astute consciousness where subtleties of surface and texture become transfixing. A group show, the selection includes artists working in different media, yet their pieces play well against each other. In the front room alone, the work of Donald Sultan and Diane Mayo demonstrate this exchange.
Sultan’s large (46” x 55”) conté on paper, titled “Mimosa May 28 2008,” is a multi-layered picture. On a white background, black branch-like forms sweep down from above; spotted with blossoms of white circles and touched with a rich, pale blue conté crayon. It’s the blue that arrests the viewer—not just the color, but that strong above-the-surface texture unique to the crayon. It’s just as rich as paint. To its side, Diane Mayo’s sculptures—in abstract yet softly organic forms—are covered in a velvety soft surface, almost like moss or mold—a look achieved merely through the ceramic glaze. “Blue” (2013) echoes Sultan’s blue, or vice-versa, in a sky-found hue.
In the back room, Caio Fonseca’s smooth-surfaced and shiny paintings form an L-shape around a Mel Kendrick concrete sculpture. Fonseca is an intriguing artist—and the tactile quality of the surface seems to play a role in what makes his work uniquely his own. The shapes are distinctly his, too. He paints his white forms, in band-like shapes alternating between straight and curvilinear, over the darker, color layer of paint, so the white is never a pure white, though it reads as such from a distance and in terms of rhythm and pattern. Closer, the white takes on the warmth or coolness of what lies beneath.
Fonseca’s “Pietrasanta” (2010) departs from those works seen previously at the Drawing Room, and at his show at Paul Kasmin in 2012, in that vertical, rhythmic abstractions have given way to what appears to be a smiley face with an extended waving arm, like a cut-out in white, over a background of horizontal bands alternating between blue sky and sunset. There’s even a vantage point in the lower right corner with traces of a green tree in the distance. Upon closer observation, the surface has been punctured with tiny holes and cuts; revealing the layer of paint underneath the white and drawing attention to the surface, lest we wander.
The juxtaposition of Fonseca and Kendrick make for an interesting dialogue—Kendrick’s untitled white sand concrete sculpture (2009) also toys with rhythm, pattern and repetition. One rectangular box, adhering to right angles and flat surfaces, has been hollowed out, partially, and we’ve been given circular window holes to peer inside, also letting light, air and color in from behind the object. Sitting stacked above it is what may or may not be the removed form, the core of the apple, if you will. The circular window-holes from the lower box are repeated above but now they are the positive form. What exists and what doesn’t exist becomes a brain-teaser—one that disappears if you allow it. Up close, it’s all just tiny grains of sand that sparkle when the sunlight catches their quartz.
In the downstairs gallery, exquisite wire sculptures by Adrian Nivola resemble early designs for flight. What’s fascinating about them, aside from expert craftsmanship and incredible attention to detail, is that the wire functions as a line—so the finished three-dimensional object takes on the “design” element of a drawing in pen or pencil. Using wood, wire, tin and copper, each flying contraption comprises wheels, coils and propellers—and they’ve been assigned numbers #4, #2 and #5, as if they were entered in the same race for the clouds.
The group exhibition also includes notable works by Sharon Horvath, Alan Shields, Robert Jakob and Christine Hiebert and will be on view through Sunday, April 6, 2014.
The Drawing Room gallery is located at 66 Newtown Lane, East Hampton. Call 631-324-5016 or visit drawingroom-gallery.com.