Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pressing Matter @ Parallel Art Space

Pressing Matter is organized around the artists’ intimate relationship to their materials, a theme embodied best in Judith Braun’s mystic, Native American like, wall drawing of hand prints. Knowing Braun only from reputation and as a fixture of Brooklyn openings, I found it nice to see her work in person. It is quite impressive how intricate the gradation and patterning is. She manages to elevate finger painting to the point where it looses all primal associations and /or childhood and becomes a well-executed drawing. In very much the same way that Antonia Perez’s net / grid of tightly woven plastic grocery bags are transformed into plastic ropes with amazing shifts in color gradation. This combined with the highly unlikely coloring of the bags pushes her piece pass being about materials to highlight say recycling and becomes a wonderful piece of minimalist color-field work, like a Nineties Rothko. I am not sure I enjoyed Hilda Shen’s work as much. Her small ceramic pieces certainly fit the show’s theme as effectively as Braun’s handprint drawings, but I have a hard time accepting these small ceramic objects as a medium. It is admittedly out of my own ignorance, and I did just see a group show in Chelsea with small ceramic objects, so she isn’t alone in this practice nowadays, but I still look at the pieces and see unfinished art class projects. I know there are some impressive things going on with the glazes, but with the small scale, it’s just hard for me to get past my own very amateurish experiences with the medium to take them as seriously as I should.

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