Perambulating the Bounds

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Off the Wall in Dickson

Just got a chance to see the Off the Wall group's show at the Renaissance Center.

A couple of things that seemed worth mentioning. Janet Heilbronn has really luscious paintings, one of those maybe it's abstract, maybe it's geologic sort of things. One of the paintings, untitled, has a sort of collar-formation, like some sort of sponge. The center is dominated by a brick-red color, but has flashes of blues in it. The structure is surrounded by a midnight blue background. Then the next painting over, What We Know, has really different color things go on. A diagonal line divides the painting--under the line are swirling forms I seem to remember from earlier work. On top of the line are clearly delineated pebbles with thin bright colors--it's the kind of colors that shouldn't work, but they do. This is a case where I just like what an artist is doing with color. I have a similar reaction say to James Lavadour's work when they show it at Cumberland.

I've been watching Iwonka Waskowski's work with interest since she showed some color drawings on clay board in a show at Kristi Hargrove's studio. They seemed like anatomical cut-aways, but not so much of discernable forms, and with shapes of things like teddy bears embedded. The shapes have a kind of analytical quality, like the working out of systems of shapes and relationships, but it's also very intuitive. I realize it's a way I think about the way Francis Bacon shapes images, and Iwonka's work in color has the raw meat quality that is ever present in Bacon. She's been working with these forms for I guess a couple of years now. The work at the Renaissance Center is graphite drawings, so no color. She continues working with those shapes, but in this media they have Hargravian qualities of fine detail, little hairlines and whatnot. "Tortured Madonna" takes the exterior shape of Mary with her head covered from religious paintings, and strips off the surface to show the shapes of strange organs or body structures, although the folds of cloth are still sort of present. She's also done a lot of paired images, and in this show there's two, "The Way I See It" and "The Way You See It" are very similar abstract shapes with slight variations. This is what I mean by an analytic piece, where you try out variations on the same forms and work shifts in combinations.

These are examples of stuff Iwonka's been working on for a while. The big shift is the introduction of figures with mask-like faces on a couple of these--much more literal, more explicitly figures, and a step into cartoon-inspired areas. Like with the work to date, it will be interesting to see where it goes.

I'm not going to talk about everyone's stuff because this is just a quick blog post. Quinn Dukes, Jenny Luckett, Mahlea Jones, and Jaime Raybin are also in the show. Jaime's taking images like her Milk Shelf series in a new direction with photographs inserted as vitrines in thick-walled boxes, but still working on recollections of childhood and teen-age years. Anyway, the show is up through March 14.

Maybe the best thing about this trip was seeing the new sculptures of the Jackson brothers, the 3 Dickson doctors who founded the local hospital, sold it to HCA, made a lot of money on their HCA stock and funded the Renaissance Center. The Ren Center took a wall in the rotunda area and installed three bronze busts of the brothers, looking very stern in their doctor's coats. With their uniforms it reminded me of a display honoring General Zhukov and other commanders of the Great Patriotic War.


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