Perambulating the Bounds

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Three artists from my DC trip

The statute of limitations is rapidly running out on writing about things I saw a couple of weekends ago in a quick run of galleries in DC, so I’ll try to keep it brief.

Snow globes: an unfailingly entertaining form, and highly underutilized as an artistic medium. At Numark gallery, Walter Martin and Palma Muñoz made these creepy fantasies in somewhat oversized snow globes. In a scene with bare trees, crows sitting in them like a Brueghel painting, a boy is on his knees over a partially buried man. In another a bunch of men stick their heads into trees. Rather than putting snow over some sunny vacation spot, Martin and Muñoz take the snow part seriously and follow imagination into winter fantasies. http://www.martin-munoz.com/recent/index.html

Smutty drawings: Kyung Leon’s drawings feature small figures, rendered in a careful style like children’s illustration, but there’s a prurient element throughout. In one picture a girl trudges away from a forest of pink trees carrying a bundle of kids on her back. In the woods, there are little groups of figures. They are very small, so you have to look very close to see that they are engaging in acts to varying degrees kinky – a naked boy and girl on a swing together, a boy pees on a girl and the pee takes a heart shape. The tiny scale seems to draw your nose right into someplace you shouldn’t be or may not want to be here. Also at Numark. http://www.kyung.com/paintings.html

Voodoo: At Hemphill, in what seemed like a wildly broad mix of medium, Renée Stout created sculptures, paintings, and installations that mixed up femaleness, blackness, folk healing, oracles, psychic power, and games of chance. Some pieces seemed like folk art artifacts of a black neighborhood culture wiped out by various waves of modernism, others were clearly the constructions of an artist. The entire assemblage, prolific in its content, was the clearest sign of the artist’s hand. The exhibit was dedicated to the city and people of New Orleans, as touching a tribute as imaginable, completely enraptured with the mystery and soul of its people, making the case that this society has access to realms of experience not available to people committed to a straight, mainstream life.

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