Display Cases in the Great Hall

Beatrice Pediconi
October 6th, 2014 - January 6th, 2015

EPHEMERAL PIGMENTS: Polaroids by Beatrice Pediconi

Beatrice Pediconi's Ephemeral Pigments is a series of polaroids of paintings on water, documenting her spirit moving over the liquid tableau. Using a different medium each time, sometimes paint, sometimes egg, sometimes pigment and oils, she circulates images into a basin of water, dropping viscous liquids into a receptive tray filled with water, coloring the movement and ripples on the surface, with these intense and delicious substances. At times they are suspended like a meniscus on the surface, at times they form shapes, and then dissolve, trailing tails behind.

The movement of the artist's hand over the water, her gesture, is recorded in the three poetic series of polaroids. Each series varies in materials and effect, as the water is seen from different angles, altering the light and colors. Her most recent series, One More Than Nine, floats subsequent layers of pigment onto the previous ones, adding complexity in the hues, depth and intensity of color. The cumulative effect of liquid trails in red, white and black, swirls of oil paint interact and intersect, creating pink, and curling into Fibonacci-curved memories of paths the artist traced over water.

Ascending the Staircase

Case One:
Ephemeral Pigments: One More Than Nine
polaroids, 4 x 5 inches

Case Two:
Ephemeral Pigments: Red,
and Untitled polaroids, 4 x 5 inches

Download checklist here Open PDF in new window

Curated by Lisa A. Banner
All works courtesy of the Artist

Archive

Michael Kirk
August 8th - October 6th, 2014

NORWAY: Small works on Paper

Michael Kirk

Michael Kirk's intimate pastels and watercolors were made on trips he took to Norway. Tender reflections of majestic landscapes, made on site as he traveled through Norway's fjords and mountains, many of the small works later inspired larger paintings and drawings when he returned to his studio. They convey his immediate responses to Norwegian landscape. His own words describe his impressions:

1991
Lofoten, an archipelago within the Artic Circle, mountainous islands reach out into the Norwegian Sea. In late May the “midnight sun” floats along the horizon. Dusk becomes dawn; one day runs into the next. I was working with pastels using my fingers to grind pigment into pigment. This physical act extends my being directly into the paper. The work is not driven by conscious thought, rather by a series of sensations and the rhythm of my hands responding to the moment.

1999
Jøtunheimen then further north and west along the fjords: Small works are sometimes done while traveling in a car. The work threads the shifting landscape till everything suddenly merges. It’s a transformative state, a chrysalis. Whether traveling or working in situ, there is always movement in the terrain and in the play of light, form and shadow. The fragility of the materials of paper, pastel, watercolor, make visible the internal conversation between perception and expression.

2013
Oslofjord: There was a visual rage before me and I was consumed by what I was seeing and my whole being was wrapped inside of it. As I sat working it no longer mattered how the patterns changed, though they kept shifting I knew what I wanted to hold on to. What I saw moments before was no longer and that seemed to parallel my own sense of vulnerability, how something could be there and then in an instant be gone. 

Case One and Case Two
Small works in pastels and watercolors on paper, dating from 1991, 1999, 2013, 2014; dimensions variable. Download checklist here Open PDF in new window

Curated by Lisa A. Banner
All works courtesy of the Artist

Dean Dempsey
June 20th to August 8th, 2014

DREAMSEQUENCE FILM STILLS

Dean Dempsey

As a photographer and a filmmaker, Dean Dempsey plays with questions of identity by masking his figures, removing them from our gaze with layers and adornment, or by placing them into carefully arranged tableaus that reveal a multiplicity of meanings.

In his film Dreamsequence, women are posed in diferent rooms that suggest a dramatic stage set. One kneels on the floor in an empty room filling with balloons that drop randomly from the ceiling, and later sits in a chair, lifting her face to a shower of golden glitter raining down upon her skin. The other perches on a chair in a bay window, naked except for the paint on her face, and the tulle enveloping her lower limbs. She moves without speaking, holding a bird in a cage. In the close ups of their faces shown here, they appear as though they are remembered from a dream.

One is dazzled, her eyes closed, and her skin coated with gold glitter. The other, looking directly at the viewer, is masked in a slick opaque Kabuki paint, the thickness of the red ink layered onto smooth skin. Tulle covers her shoulder and bust and frames the face from below. The installation features these photographs in the cases, seen through clouds of colored tulle, loosely bound with soft white or black ribbons. Red threads hold the veils of tulle in knots, and the tulle forms a frame to the photographs, like transparent baroque curtains framing the portrait subjects.

These film stills are moments caught in time. Printed on two sheets, they form halves of a whole face, one glossy color, and one black and white on thin paper. A ribbon divides the faces where two sheets meet. In the beds of the cases under glass, and gauzy tulle, the faces appear as if taken from memory, part of the evanescent dream sequences we share.

CHECKLIST

Case One:
RED MASK
Film Still, multimedia archival prints
Case bound with tulle, thread, binding tapes and ribbon

Case Two:
GLITTER
Film Still, multimedia archival prints
Case bound with tulle, thread, binding tapes and ribbon

All works Courtesy of the Artist and BOSI ContemporaryOpen link in new window
Curated by Lisa A. Banner

Eliana Pérez
May 4, 2014 - June 16, 2014

HUNTED: Gouache Drawings by Eliana Pérez


Domestic intranquilities form the subjects of this series of gouache drawings by Colombian artist Eliana Pérez, executed as a continuous numbered series with point of brush on deckled edge paper. Animals inhabit an interior and domestic landscape, coming to life and interacting with their environment. A group of branches in a vase waves cautiously as if bent by wind toward an unseen place, breaking into pieces and wispy fragments for no apparent reason. A slipcover begins to growl as if ready for attack. A hidden dragon slithers to life in the folds of a drapery, leaving fire in its wake. An archer shoots at a trophy stag from the comfort of his decorative pose on an ovoid telephone table. A flock of birds twitter against the back of a sofa. A living room is submerged in standing water, colorless, and linear. A blue mattress, its coils exposed, floats away on an ocean of coiled lines. The images form a personal narrative of disquiet.

Pérez describes the Hunted drawings in this way, noting that they are numbered, rather than named:

"In Hunted, the patterns on furniture, rugs and curtains come to life, transforming these objects of domestic comfort into portals expressing a pervasive world of savagery and violence. In these drawings the hunters revel in the thrill of dominance, while the prey struggle in fear and agony. The scenes make tangible a thin layer of noise, always present but not always apparent in modern life. The images interrupt the ostensible serenity of the home, like the violence on the television, domestic disquiet, and daily news of war." Her gaze is at once lyrical and ferocious, as she presents these snapshots of animated interaction within a place that normally seems peaceful and undisturbed by the intrusion of the wild, and untame d side of nature.

CHECKLIST

Case One:
Hunted
1-4, all drawings gouache on paper, 15 x 11 inches

Case Two:
Hunted
5-9, all drawings gouache on paper, 15 x 11 inches
Hunted 7 is 11 x 15 inches

All works Courtesy of the Artist
Curated by Lisa A. Banner

Jongil Ma
March 24, 2014 - May 3, 2014

WOLF: Constructions in Wood and Mirror by Jongil Ma

Timothy Hawkesworth

Jongil Ma is intrigued by the delicate social relationships between friends and inside social groups. As an immigrant to the United States from Korea in 1996, his continued fascination with these interactions has led him to create an art practice that embraces sculpture and installation to create interactive spaces. Working in both large-scale monumental sculpture and intimate conceptual pieces, he brings sensitivity and power to his work. Because he wants to break through the confining divisions between audience and artist, he asks a wide range of participants to bring their own concerns to transform his pieces.

As he describes in his own words: “As I observe myself changing in order to better relate to the sensitivities and subtle forms of communication of this society, I return to this fascination. I desire a way to more directly contact other people’s hidden understandings. I believe that this very particular energy creates a unique aesthetic language and evolves out of a practical need. The Wolf project begins with images I find and alter to fit different situations. In this piece I have arranged a face of wolf along with a partially assembled paper cut-out target on the mirror. As the viewer’s reflection changes and is altered within this piece, I hope that they experience a moment of participation and psychological engagement.

For years, my work’s primary focus has been large-scale woven wooden sculptural installations. In these as well as in this small-scale, model-like piece, the wood strips are subject to physical pressure and stress evoking conflicting sensations. The tension of the gracefully curved lines, delicate joints, and temporal forms speak to the fragility of human relationships as well as to the balance in nature. A partially clear translucent Plexiglas covers the piece, as if to both contain and blur its edges. The experience relates to the momentary disorientation one feels on the boundary between waking life and vivid dreaming.

CHECKLIST

Case One:
RIBBONS
Sculpture construction in bent and woven bamboo strips, covered in plexiglass
23 5/8 x 42 x 5 inches


Case Two:
WOLF
Mirror and cut paper strips
27 x 50 inches

All works Courtesy of the Artist
Curated by Lisa A. Banner

Timothy Hawkesworth
February 1, 2014 - March 17, 2014

Wishes: Horses

Timothy Hawkesworth

Horses are powerful, atavistic creatures, symbols of freedom, speed, and sensitive response. This exhibition of horse drawings spans two important dates connected to the imagery of Irish painter Timothy Hawkesworth: 1 February 2014 marks the beginning of the Year of the Horse, the seventh sign of the Chinese zodiac and an auspicious year recognizing the power and primal nature of the horse. The end date of the exhibition, 17 March marks Saint Patrick’s Day, named for the patron saint of Ireland, where Timothy Hawkesworth grew up on a farm and began his relationship with horses.

Hawkesworth’s horses are energetic and rapidly drawn with graphite over wax and paint on paper, moving from right to left, galloping, rearing, and walking with heads bowed, raised or thrown back in restless movement. Evoking the animal nature with figurative representations, like Susan Rothenberg’s horses from the 1970s, Hawkesworth infuses a personal vision in these drawings, and taps into a source of infinite fascination: domesticated animals that retain a wild and untamed spirit. Like Eadweard Muybridge’s early photographic studies of horses in motion, a series of these monochromatic drawings present a sequence of dramatic movement that belies their small size. Hawkesworth often speaks of the “rigor of wildness,” a sort of alignment with the core of creativity within oneself, or a spine that holds the energy and freedom of the creature in motion. His horses embody this concept with their delicate layering and gobs of paint dabbed onto a small paper support. With gestural strokes of graphite, he gives these tiny horses a physical weight on the page, adding substance to what are otherwise outlines extracted from memory, implying motion and freedom.

Growing up on a farm in Northern Ireland, Hawkesworth’s experience of horses informed much of how he saw the world, and how he began to respond to it through painting. Donald Kuspit has written that “Hawkesworth’s art is about the uncanniness of suffering.” In his own words, Hawkesworth gives profound emphasis to the power of the animals to transform his human response:

“I grew up short sighted - my eyes blurred with cataracts. Horses helped me see. Animals of flight, they are programmed to be well informed, ready to go, no separation between thought and action, message and response. The vibration of energy through their body, through my hands and my legs, gave me a special read on the natural world. I was taught attentiveness. How I was shown made me a painter and what I was shown, gave me my content.”

CHECKLIST

Case One: Left to Right
Small Horse Drawing #6, 2012, 4 x 6 inches
Small Horse Drawing #2, 2012, 4 x 6 inches
Small Horse Drawing #7, 2012, 4 x 6 inches
Small Horse Drawing #4, 2012, 4 x 6 inches

Case Two: Left to Right
Small Horse Drawing #5, 2012, 4 x 6 inches
Horse #4, 2012, 12 x 14 inches
Small Horse Drawing #3, 2012, 4 x 6 inches

All works are oil, graphite, and wax on paper

All works courtesy of the artist and Littlejohn ContemporaryOpen link in new window
Curated by Lisa A. Banner

Archive

Christopher Smith
November, 2013- January 17th, 2014

Alabaster and Albacore

Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith's Alabaster and Albacore is a series of lush and velvety photographic prints, showing proposed video installations in the interiors of recognizable landmarks and public spaces, including the James B. Duke House.  In this body of work Smith engages themes of transience and permanence, movement and color, nature and displacement.  

Taking elements of color and bubbles from his ongoing "Painter Project," Smith transforms them, draping them over the railings of staircases, suspending them from the skylights and floating them across the floor toward the viewer.  Using techniques attuned classic films like as director Carol Reed’s “Odd Man Out (1947, Two Cities film), Jean-Luc Godard’s “Two or Three Things I Know About Her,” (1967, Argos Films), or Martin Scorsese’s 1976 classic, “Taxi Driver,” Smith hones in on the bubbles floating in front of the camera as visual metaphors for the transience of life, the fragility of the moment. Bubbles and the splashes that rise where they pop become classic, universal and timeless metaphors placed into familiar contexts with dramatic impact.

A floor flooded with red paint and blue bubbles forms a liquid carpet sliding underfoot, lit by the fires in chandeliers and sconces along the marble walls. Smith offers an intimate scene of warmth and protection, while a narrow door opens to a sunlit window beyond, revealing a slit of green light entering the darkened room. Shadows and reflections are soaked in blood red, shimmering phosphorescent green and opaque turquoise blue.

Floating the idea of suspension and creation within these prints, and bathing it in the radiant glow of night vision goggles, Smith probes a simple mystery through these admixtures of color and form, finding creamy white or vividly colored substance in unusual places. The Alabaster series focuses on translucent white light, with hues of pale gold, flesh pink, blue and violet gleaming over edges and shaded surface, while the Albacore series presents vivid carnal colors emerging from darkness.

Each photographic print suggests a projection by the artist into a hidden interior, some clean and open, some darkened and dimly lit. Smith creates views of imagined beauty, allowing the unseen to become real. Using projection techniques, manipulating surfaces, his eye slides over domestic and public interiors. Formed with life and movement, these unusual intrusions open known spaces into fantastic and poetic new places, smooth and transparent or fleshy and potent.

CHECKLIST

Case One:  Alabaster
Left to right and top to bottom
Alabaster 002
Alabaster 004
Alabaster 001
Alabaster 005
Alabaster 004

Case Two: Albacore
Left to right and top to bottom
Albacore 001
Albacore 002
Albacore 003
Albacore 004
Albacore 005

All works courtesy of the artist
Curated by Lisa A. Banner

Archive

The inaugural exhibition:

William Smith
September 15th - October 31st

Flowers of the Sky

William Smith

Flowers of the Sky is a series of life-size botanical paintings on the folios of an 18th century astronomy text, dismantled and then reassembled into an accordion-fold artist book. The transformation of the text of James Ferguson's Astronomy Explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles (1799) began in response to a Victorian astronomy book entitled Flowers of the Sky in the archive of the John Work Garrett Library at Johns Hopkins University.

As the artist describes, the fluid yet tenuous painting on the book pages is analogous to a fragile web or distant constellation. For Smith, flowers are symbols of our selves and of nature, as well as a metaphor for the machinations of the universe. Implicitly, book folios serve as multivalent supports for the painted leaves and flowers that adorn them with color and design imposed over printed words.

In the works on view with Flowers of the Sky, William Smith manipulates the intimate setting of a book page, a small-scale print or piece of paper, and approaches landscape as a response to the pages and their text, or the words found there. At times he reveals and at times obscures the words on the page. His visual language consists of representations of reflection, dissolving surfaces, hidden meaning, and impenetrability.  Combining this language with the eloquence of a natural landscape, Smith reflects the tensions between ordered and  accidental marks, or the absence of human presence with the implicit sense of human touch in a painted surface.

CHECKLIST

Flowers of the Sky, 2003, oil paint on printed book pages from James Ferguson, Astronomy Explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles, 1799.

Also on view:

Silence, 2007, oil paint on printed book page
Untitled, 2007, oil paint on printed book page
Solitude, 2007, oil paint on printed book page
Of the Division of Time, 2007, oil paint on printed book pages:
p. 363 and p. 368

All works courtesy of the artist and Littlejohn ContemporaryOpen link in new window
Curated by Lisa A. Banner