Friday, September 17, 2010
Hidden Realizations at Vincent Michael Gallery
I went out of town on Labor Day weekend, and as a result, I was unable to attend any First Friday openings. Regrettably, I have been to nary an event all month, save for a preview at Vincent Michael Gallery of the current show Hidden Realizations. The two artists, Tom French and Chloe Faith Urban, were present and I was glad to have the opportunity to chat with them. The works selected have layering as a common thread: the layers of construction or of different media help to build their levels of meaning.
Tom French, who hails from Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England, is enjoying his first United States show. Immediately, I was struck by his stunning touch with charcoal. He manages a tricky balance of detailed realism and gestural looseness in many of the works. Some drawings have taken a more stylized direction, and he has overlaid them with color gels upon which he sprayed or dripped paint. The resulting graffiti effect is playful, such as one might mischievously scribble devil horns or a curly moustache over a portrait, both enhancing and defacing aspects of the underlying work. French also has several memento mori drawings evocative of the skull optical illusion in Charles Allan Gilbert’s famous All Is Vanity. He has substituted sexual desire for the self-love of Gilbert’s mirror gazer.
Chloe Faith Urban was still in the process of installing her work when I saw it, but I came away with a good idea of how the final product would look. To produce the small, mixed-media series she was hanging, she begins with gelatin print monotypes made by inking the random folds of scrunched fabric. She then applies further print color passes, adding scraps of gauzy fabric to some or cutting away portions to create patterns on others. My favorite thing about this series was how it was suspended slightly away from the wall, allowing the lacelike shadows of the heavily cut-up pieces to be visible. Urban is also a dancer, and she explained that her method on the larger works involves dancing on paper with charcoal on her feet. She then goes back into the drawing to pull out specific markings made by her movement.
Hidden Realizations is on view at Vincent Michael Gallery through September 25.