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reviews of frost and dorsch

Post #198 • January 23, 2004, 3:50 PM • 3 Comments

Abelardo Morell spoke on Tuesday evening in honor of his exhibition at the newly-renamed Frost Museum at FIU. (Warning: if you looked as ugly as FIU's museum website, you'd never leave the house.) Elizabeth Cerejido outdid herself with a knockout installation and the work was handsome. Morell talked about capturing a childlike sense of wonder in the act of photography, the simple pleasure of watching objects in the light. He produced a series of photographs of rooms that he had turned into giant pinhole cameras; impressive as they were, I preferred a series of closeups of objects interacting with water that conveyed that feeling of lazy, youthful fascination.

At Dorsch Gallery, Kerry Ware put up a meditative installation of giant blue circles punctuated with pegs, embedded into the drywall, which he then connected as if they were constellations. The lights were low and the effect was cosmic. Ware never fails to impress, but his installations tend to make me wish he was painting; he can do more with a rectangle than just about anybody in town, and this doesn't seem like a full use of his considerable talents.

Mirna Massengale's photographs of women called out to be pushed further. Feminist commentary escapes her - the dolled-up girls laying in the recycling bins were so heavy-handed as to be inoperative. Her sexier works were the strongest, and they would benefit from even more pumped-up color (the tinted bathwater was a nice touch), more makeup, more outrageous poses, and more skin.

Carolina Salazar has been working on intimate panels with detailed but flat renderings of people in oil, arranged with plant motifs on areas of white paint as if they had been collaged. Salazar's unpredictable but convincing sense of composition drives images that have all the hallmarks of skilled realism while playing around with some truly weird paint handling (some details seem to have been scratched out of the paint with a needle). Abstract shapes crash the figurative party at times, where they take on an unnerving psychological presence. The paintings simultaneously evoke reverie, reflection and tension. They invite and compensate repeated looking. The buzz in the gallery about them was positive - I overheard someone saying that she ought to be showing in New York. That would work out - the paintings look hip, but they're substantial as well.

UPDATE: Welcome, Modern Art Notes readers, and thank you to Tyler Green for the link.

Comment

1.

Hovig

January 24, 2004, 4:23 AM

Great post, Franklin, both visually and textually. I love visiting galleries remotely, and I can tell you enjoyed what you saw. I enjoyed seeing it too.

I liked all four pieces, but I found Salazar's piece more interesting. I see a stripe of lovely wallpaper, demonstrating beauty and nature, perhaps also showing a yearning for the outdoors, but in an artificial and "forcibly domestic" way. I see a young woman in conflict, squatting and cowering. I see the natural beautiful representations of the wallpaper at her face, but I see bright red blood at her feet, midway up the wallpaper, flowing downward.

It's a thoughtful piece, suggesting at least a few different narratives (as good art should), but it's also aesthetic interesting. It looked flat to me at first, but I appreciate it more as I view it more closely. If this work is representative, I agree she'll do well.

2.

carlos de v

January 26, 2004, 9:12 PM

Franklin, I went by Dorsch and saw Carolina's paintings. I thought they were wonderful. They are much more sophisticated than her earlier work, but retained that charm and quiet stillness. The texture of the scraping works really well, very delicate.

Great show!

3.

Jack

January 27, 2004, 5:17 AM

Admittedly I'm focused on painting, but knowing how well Kerry can paint, I couldn't help feeling his installations, however interesting, are not the best use of his time and energy. Their nature and scale would also seem to make them rather impractical in purely commercial terms.

I'm not a photography person, so I'll refrain from commenting on that part of the show. Suffice it to say that I found Franklin's comments apt.

Salazar, predictably enough, was of more interest to me. Her work is pretty and delicate, which tends to make me skeptical, but she has real skill--there's a precision and obsessiveness to her drawing which recalls the Pre-Raphaelites, and she has a gift for conveying suggestive facial expression. Still, I think she could do more with her talents.

I don't care for large expanses of blank picture surface, particularly in non-abstract work; it strikes me as a gimmick or cop-out, and it seems precious or overly calculated. In other words, I want a painter to deal with the space, as opposed to approaching it like a graphic designer.

Her works in this show are like sketches, fragments or incomplete statements, a bit coy for my taste, though certainly attractive. They're also rather fashionable, which again activates my skepticism. I'd like more visual substance, perhaps more narrative or symbolic content given her particular gifts, and less wispy reticence.

In case it's not apparent, by the way, I normally wouldn't bother to say this much about a painter unless I felt he/she was worth the trouble.

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