Within a repurposed warehouse in Bushwick, the Black and White Gallery exhibits its taste with the fine works of Patte Loper. An eclectic mix of mediums, Loper’s Sparkly Darkly has an otherworldly feel.
This lunar atmosphere is unsurprising given Loper’s inspiration, the late astronomer Percival Lowell. Lowell, known for his studies of Mars and prediction of Pluto, makes for a transcendental muse; from canvas to cardboard, from tin foil to stop motion, an aura of a lifeless planet persists. But despite these cosmic influences, Sparkly Darkly’s thematic repetitions of feminism and dystopia tie the exhibit to the present.
As the gallery’s name might imply, the installation is rendered almost exclusively in black and white, interrupted only by drab shades of brown and gray. The oppressive ambiance extends beyond the colors. One painting depicts a crumpled person, diminished by heavy words that float above him, asserting again and again, “No.” Another portrays a Dali-esque landscape, melted in zero-gravity under a black night sky.
While formally trained in painting, Loper is not afraid to step outside the bounds of traditional form. Here, a small projector shoots rays of light across a broken background. And there in the corner is a construction of cardboard cut into panels, like the remains of an abandoned spacecraft.
Designed as a site-specific installation, the Black and White Gallery makes a natural fit for the exhibit. Founded by Tatyana Okshteyn and her artist husband in 2002, the environment gives shape to Sparkly Darkly. The Bushwick studio space is the latest incarnation of the Black and White Gallery, having had previous tenures in Chelsea and Williamsburg. A former investment banker, Tatyana pursued her artistic aspirations after witnessing firsthand the devastation of 9/11. Traumatic though the experience was, it made Tatyana recognize the impermanence of life, leading her to leave Wall Street to hang art upon gallery walls.
The lifeless milieu is a reflection of the astronomic influences, but also mirrors the social disturbance that ripples through society. One canvas illustrates an Orwellian eye staring straight back at the viewer, its gaze haunting and flat. Loper’s incorporation of tinfoil into the montage of art reinforces its themes, bringing to mind thoughts of a conspiracy theorist, betrayed by their own paranoia. Mounted to the wall, a small video plays a stop-animation loop, in which images are composed and reconstructed, declaring themselves to the world; “socialism,” “a woman’s place is in her union,” “up to our imagination,” and “we are the people our parents warned us about.” These messages are consistent with the author’s conviction, signaling hope against the bleak surroundings.
Patte Loper’s Sparkly Darkly displays the work of a natural craftswoman. Utilizing a melody of mediums, she provides a multifaceted approach to mature topics and dark matters, evoking both the universal and the surreal.
This installation will remain on display at the Black and White Gallery until April 9th.