Bear witness to the results of brave compulsions and intuitive forces in X-istential: an exhibition about chance as archaeology. The mélange of colors, the puncture of foam and foil, and the reuse of detritus from the outdoors—this is what stood out to me last week inside Loft 594 on X-istential’s opening night.
A simple span across the room returned brushstrokes all ablaze, paper edges both torn and ragged (and for shocking reasons, I learned) and a surprise of elements that had seemingly lost control. It was almost too overwhelming to take in — but in the right sort of way. How can overwhelming be good though? I had to ask myself. I decided to find out how these artists ‘chanced’ their way through each surprising piece.
Though chance is not a new technique in the art world, I could tell a new expressive tendency was on the horizon among this group, especially with Nathalie Collins’ industrial foam works in which she jabbed, dug and scratched unique patterns, making a deliberate play between compulsion and intuition. In a brave move, Collins relinquished part of her control over the subject matter, partially unsure of what she was looking for yet maintaining the original parameters that she originally set out with.
Nathalie Collins ‘Untitled’, industrial foam detail
You know an historical trend is getting further with an audience when you are tempted to reach out and touch the artwork (though you know better not to—if anyone else is looking, that is). I barely fought temptation with the two core samples on display by Jack Henry, who took his encounters with chance outdoors to find random materials on the street. These found objects were molded together, falling as they may throughout the structure. There was even a nice picture frame that I was tempted to pull from it.
Jack Henry ‘Untitled’, details of Core Sample #5 and #15
In a happenstance series of events, Will Hutnick became a part of X-istential via an existing set of materials from a previous installation. Hutnick’s Atlas Revisited consists of colorful strips of tape that were stripped down from their former site and brought to life once again inside Loft 594. Perhaps these archaeological remnants could have a third life in another setting?
Will Hutnick discusses the remnants of ‘Atlas Revisited’ with curator Jen Shepard.
Another glimpse into the unplanned presented itself in Jen Poueymirou’s Untitled (mouse piece). Had I not been told, I wouldn’t have known the artist left the piece outdoors and allowed rodents to tear and bite into the paper, creating an unforeseen result in its final state for the show. I asked curator Jen Shepard if the artist used gloves when handling the piece afterwards and she said no. Again, these artists are pretty brave.
Jen Poueymirou ‘Untitled’ (mouse piece)
Mixing more deliberate yet impulsive choices, Karen Tiliakos painted a path of accident and intent, colorizing the gallery’s stark white walls. I was so strongly alerted to Tilakos’ colorful works as the details culminated with the compulsions of Collins’ tactile pieces and the scrapings of Henry’s core samples. From here, Carlton Herbert’s mix of symbols and typography reinvented the feeling, revealing reaction that neither words nor images alone could depict.
In viewing these details, I felt a part of each artist’s process, witnessing the daring techniques that built each work and existed in their X-istential realms.
Karen Tiliakos ‘Over the Mountains’, Jack Henry ‘Untitled’ (Core Sample #15), Nathalie Collins ‘Untitled’.
Carlton Herbert ‘Your Mom Cares’ (photo courtesy of Carlton Herbert)
X-istential: an exhibition about chance as archaeology will be on view at Loft 594 through February 16, with a closing brunch the same day from 12 – 5 pm.