After the success of “Obscured/Omitted” and “Uncensored,” Port Exhibitions (http://portexhibitions.com/) director and curator of SIABC Gallery, Raul Barquet launches “Anamorphic.” An anthology exhibit of collage-based artists Hope Kroll, Chad Wys, Lizzie Gill, Scott Albrecht, Anastasiya Gutnik, S.B. Kosinski, Jonathan Leiter, Charlie Green, and Douglas Latourette, “Anamorphic” breaks reality and rebuilds it into a visible echo that reverberates and reassembles as the viewer moves around the gallery.
The gallery itself is a refreshing surprise. Only a few months ago, Barquet talked the owner of SIABC into reopening a gallery in a building deserted for half a year. This created a thundering opportunity to put to use his well-honed sense as an art dealer and inaugurate his curatorial skills.
Ever since Port Exhibitions was re-launched in March 2016, Barquet’s renewed taste – profoundly matured by his work in the art world – has converged with the incredible space he’s been turning upside down with his own destabilizing stratagems. Walking into the gallery is like walking into a new dimension of thought.
“Anamorphic” brings together and sums up the vision Barquet developed working with Jonathan Levine (http://jonathanlevinegallery.com/), Paul Booth at Last Rites Gallery (http://www.lastritesgallery.com/), and Tattoo Theatre (http://lastritestattoo.tv/#/start/), as well as his own artistic sensibility, and drills down into the history of contemporary collage.
Largely two-dimensional paper works, juxtaposed to a selection of three-dimensional ones such as Hope Kroll’s (http://www.hopekroll.com/) and Anastasiya Gutnik’s (http://licartsopen.org/anastasiya-gutnik/), the exhibit focalizes a kind of tenebrous yet playful instability.
Lizzie Gill (http://www.lizziegill.com/) and Hope Kroll are standouts for their captivating and preposterous compositions. Both mine vintage papers and prints for their works.
Layering carefully cut paper, Kroll achieves a three-dimensional quality that is both intellectually romantic and oddly reminiscent of seventies’ modge-podge crafts. “The Devouring” evokes the self-consuming yet self-repairing mechanisms of nature, with a female head being hand painted while her machine-like body is devoured by insects. “July 18” – an ascending angelic female body immobilized by her musical instruments – and “Instability” – a young male, half-dressed, fighting against the hundreds of dragonflies – convey discomfort and imprisonment. “Les Voyeurs” playfully juxtaposes two vintage portraits inside a bed of colorful flowers, while “Homebody,” almost conversely, features a bizarre scene of a man sitting in a dollhouse machine decorated with human entrails and a colorful mesh of veins and arteries.
Gill’s “Tinderella II,” “She’s The One (Four Mutual Friends),” and “Nuclear Family” revive black-and-white human figures from the fifties, bringing them to form part of rather absurd domestic scenes in deconstructed spaces created by a mix of black, yellow, and light green dots.
Dots are essential in Scott Albrecht’s (http://scottalbrecht.com/) compositions, with drawings within 49 circular frames, and exuding the scent of Damien Hirst’s (http://www.damienhirst.com/) organic creations. Titled “Coney Island,” “Luquer St.,” “Mini Bar,” “The Trestle,” and “Youth,” they present riven scenes – each dot is button connecting the narrative: a face, a wall, a rat….
Anastasiya Gutnik’s “Milkweed” escapes organization and easy interpretation: The pieces of animals and insects trapped in the white mesh that unifies this three-dimensional collage invites us to look beyond the object to infinite interpretation and understanding. Equally complex is Tracy Coons’ “Madams Folly” with a steer skull over a splintered background with pieces of newsprint and shades of red.
Fragments, this time of bodies, make up Chad Wys’ (http://chadwys.com/) faceless figures that simultaneously hide and reveal meaning: The absence of expression drains potency from the powerful pose in “Armor,” while the fractured female bodies in “The Dance” cause us to think twice about the nature of their movement. Similarly, S.B. Kosinski’s (http://sore-ego.info/) “Out of Reach in America” and “Mobility” present mysterious compositions using disembodied limbs, while “Language as a Bridge” and “Language as a Barrier” render curious interpretations of communication.
Using found pieces of paper, tearing them – with their meanings – apart, and creating new works on paper with the addition of colors, layers and other media, “Anamorphic’s” collage artists dissect realities through the mirrors of their subjectivities to create new, bent worlds. And while the over-reliance on glued-together vintage paper works can become tiresome and difficult to reinvent again and again, “Anamorphic” is not meant to generate surprise, but instead to analyze the contemporary history of collage and its current trajectory. This collection of artists gives hope for the future of Raul Barquet’s newly (re)launched art gallery. The show is a must see.