One of my favorite Greek mythology tales was about Icarus & Daedalus. The father, Daedalus, was a famed artisan/architect and his son, Icarus, were imprisoned by the king of Crete. Daedalus devised an escape by crafting wings to fly off from the island but warned his son not to fly high and close to the sun. Icarus in his unbridled moment of pride and elation flew close to the sun thus melting the wax binding the feathers that resulted into a beautiful death plunge. This ballet of death was stuck in my head but it came to life on the walls of Dacia Gallery at Stanton Street last Sept. 5th with a preview of Leah Yerpe for her solo exhibition “Infinitum”.
Lee Vasu, the proprietor of the gallery, graciously shared the facts and thought process of Leah Yerpe’s alluring figurative drawings done in graphite and charcoal. The simple monotone of the medium on the stark white background gave the twisting and descending bodies their beautiful ballet of either brevity or doom. Yerpe enlisted her friends to model for her as she took pictures of them jumping on a bed as each time lapsed frame provided the basis for her drawings of multiple bodies descending elegantly. Each frozen second is intricately placed as to feel the moment of weightlessness then gravity. The facial features are expressive, real diversity in her array of chosen subjects, and the modern touch of having them in everyday clothes gives her series of work the fresh radiance in figurative drawing.
There is a real sense of play in contradictions as Yerpe shifts her renderings from fastidious details to the looseness of the improvised dance configurations done by each subject. The beauty of the stark simplicity of just the figure in motion and no distracting background element or color comes down to the highly impressive drawing prowess she executes confidently. If an artist had to pare things down, the level of technique must be high and the naked platform forces a deliberate execution that is above par. Anything done to a lesser degree can make the multitude of sins glare blindingly as the golden ray of light that was the catalyst for the ballet of death for Icarus.
However, Yerpe can fly high and into the sun if she wants to. Her figurative drawings are memorable and they are alluring even if it straddles the line between high elation of absolutes and the deep abyss of infinite mysteries.
Leah Yerpe – Infinitum / On View: September 5 – October 15, 2012
Gallery Hours: Wed – Fri (1 – 7 pm) / Sat – Sun (12 – 6 pm) / Mon-Tue by appt.
Dacia Gallery. 53 Stanton Street. New York, NY 10002.
art review by: Oscar A. Laluyan
photography by: Deukyun Hwang