It is a whirl-wind of color, media, sizes and shapes at Bruno David Gallery this month. With Judy Pfaff’s solo-exhibition, Recent Work in the main gallery featuring large, multimedia, themed installations, Monika Weiss’ eerily and compellingly still film, Abiding (Proba Wody) in the Media Room, Jill Downen’s quirky and telling Midsection sculptures in the Project Room and Carmon Colangelo’s Florida-inspired prints in the Front Room entitled, Seven Days in O Land O, it is a busy month at the gallery.
Known for her installation art, Pfaff’s exhibition at Bruno David is on a slightly smaller scale than normal for the artist, but still involving works several feet high and wide and with multimedia qualities that link them easily to installation. Pumpkins Sinking uses orange and yellow colored Chinese paper lanterns (a favored material) and flourescent lights to create a pseudo naturalistic feel, incorporating man-made, highly culturalized objects with visual association to the orange gourd in nature. The work slightly awkwardly ‘billows’ across the wall in the same kind of off-kilter way a pumpkin would lay on damp ground. There are other references to nature, as in the blue, long and lean Okra for Dinner and the twisting and expanding Truffle. Click here to see an online gallery of Pfaff’s work.
Jill Downen’s brilliant sculptural group, entitled, Midsection bluntly presents aspects of the midsection of the body, namely of the female chest, through white concrete, latex, or gypsum material as individual sculptures. In presenting a single breast on the ground, for example, Downen really gets at the visual cultural overload that has led us to associate a single body part as a symbol for an entire person as well as cultural obsession and dissection of the female body. Her sexualized sculptures (and sometimes architectural forms), are reminiscent of Robert Gober and his ability to use a simple part of the human body, independent from its whole, and give it a new, super-erotic or incredibly un-erotic meaning. Click here to see an online gallery of Downen’s work.
Weiss is also interested in the body as holding intrinsic cultural meaning, and her short film, Abiding (Proba Woody) focuses almost exclusively on the body, particularly the neck and head of a young woman in a bathtub. The slow, decisive repetition of the woman going under the water for a few seconds, and then coming up for air for a few seconds, attests to the constant repetition of the body’s functions to keep us alive, but also speaks to our body’s participation in the performance of the socialized and culturalized self. The theme of women and water is a recurrent one in the history of art (I think of Ingres’ painting and Millet’s one too) and links women to everything from sexualized ancient Greco-Roman nymphs to the holy ritual of water baptism. In the film, the body is the sight of performance, of trace, and of themes of personal and cultural memory and history. Click here to see a video interview with Weiss.
Finally, Colangelo’s series of letterpress prints in the Front Room stem from a seven-day trip to Orlando in which the artist explored themes of local culture. Included are expected references to Disney but also to the strangeness of hotel living and the Americana of road-trip culture. Although local culture often seems to succumb to a more regional, national, or even global one, Colangelo approaches it through a wide variety of energetic individual prints that work together as a whole but also as individual pictures whose Florida inspired imagery can’t escape their involvement in a larger, more encompassing visual culture. Click here to see an online gallery of Colangelo’s work and don’t miss his gallery talk on Sat, Feb 18th at 4pm.
Judy Pfaff: Recent Work, Carmon Colangelo: Seven Days in O Land O, Jill Downen: Midsection, and Monika Weiss: Abiding (Proba Woody) all continue at Bruno David Gallery on 3721 Washington Blvd through 3 March, 2012. The gallery is open Wednesday – Saturday, 10-5. See http://www.brunodavidgallery.com for more information.