April 30, 2005
The Challenge: just the ticket
Heyman, Daniel - This morning's paper had an item about Pfc.
Lynndie England pleading guilty--the Abu Ghraib prison guard
whose picture, holding a prisoner on a leash, is one of the
awful Iraq images that has burned itself into our consciousness
and our consciences. England's image is also one of the repeating
images of the horrors of war in painter and print-maker Daniel
A. Heyman's Challenge exhibit now up at Fleisher (see Roberta's
post about the opening reception here). Heyman's concerns
about the state of the world talked directly to his fellow
Challenge artist Norm Paris. And the work of Lindsay Feuer,
the third artist in this group, stood as a strong contrast--another
planet really, except I couldn't help but think perhaps this
work is also about survival (right, Heyman's "Challenge
This," five from a series of 15 water-based woodblock
prints on washi paper).
Michael Jordan to the rescue
Paris, Norm - Paris offers a single grand gesture
here in "Michael Jordan, Save the World," an installation
of 23 Michael Jordan sculptures that look about half-size,
hanging from the ceiling in various aerial gestures, trying
to catch 24 little atomic bombs. His airness in multiples
takes up the entire room. The piece is a poignant plea, asking
a sports hero and celebrity to be a real hero and save us.
It's a commentary on our culture and a commentary on the state
of the world. It's also a commentary on the nature of fans.
The plea--and command--in the show title is touching, a boy's
desire to be rescued--by plastic action figures, basically
(left, installation detail).
Paris, who has an MFA from Yale in printmaking and painting
and lives in Philadelphia, shows at the ultra-hip Brooklyn
gallery, Jack the Pelican Presents. And he has shown locally
in "Bling Bling," a Project Room show that was staged
at the Tacony Palmyra Flea Market and at the prestigious Arcadia
Works on Paper show in 2003.
Bombarded by images
who has a history of making art with homosexual themes, has
used this Challenge to focus on the war in Iraq, the destruction
and death and our nation's loss of moral credibility. Clearly,
he has a following, judging by the large number of red dots
all over the wall (right, detail, "Rice Bowl Boy Goes
to War," 2004, oil and ink on mylar, photograph by James
Heyman works in layers--a kind of leftover from his experience
with Japanese woodblock printing--painting repeating images
in oil on mylar and then stacking them until he achieves the
level of chaos of intricacy that invites a search and perusal
of just what's there. Embedded in the work are a number of
images from the war in Iraq, copied straight out of the newspapers,
and repeated over and over within single works and also carried
along from one work to another. In the four panels of "Rice
Bowl Boy Goes to War" art-historical imagery across eastern
and western culture are layered with images from the war.
The hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner is here as well as in a series
of prints devoted solely to that image.
Heyman, who has shown widely locally and in New York, was
a Philadelphia Print Collaborative porfolio artist this year.
Life forms for survival
Feuer, Lindsay - Lindsay Feuer's hand-built, unglazed porcelain
sculptures of fantasy plants and cells also suggest creatures
and reproductive organs and undersea life forms. The work
is quite beautiful, and its whiteness suggests a hermetic
lack of oxygen which seems to fit the subject matter quite
well at the same time that it emphasizes the tactile quality
of structures beneath the skin, as do classical marble sculptures.
Harris, Rain - I was reminded a little too much of Rain Harris'
biomorphic plants (right), but Harris clearly has a decorative
intent in her pretty poison bottles and more recent Empire
wall moldings and wallpaper.
Tokumaru, Kyoko - I'm also reminded of the white porcelain
profusions of plants by Kyoko Tokumaru (left, Tokumaru's "Germination
#3"), which also have a different subject matter--a suggestion
of plants as human stand-ins, overcrowded and competing for
what little space is left in the conservatory--growth gone
Nonetheless, maybe because of the context of Paris and Heyman,
I found myself thinking about which life forms would survive
the disasters we are creating all around us. And who's to
say Feuer's oversexed biota aren't just the ticket? Beautiful
and successful all at once--female overachievers.
Ink, Libby 11:20 PM