ARTLURKER

A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

A Hybrid Trifecta: Pope, Russell & Saà at Dorsch Gallery

Image courtesy of the author and Dorsch Gallery, Miami.

For the first time, a light feeling issues from the multi-artist framework of the Dorsch Gallery. It goes without saying that most of the shows from the Wynwood trailblazer leave viewers with an eerie, almost foreboding chill once outside the lime green door. Past shows such as Clifton Childree – Robert Thiele – Arnold Mesches, Noise Field (with Martin Murphy, Antonia Wright and Odalis Valdivieso among others), and Brandon Opalka – Felecia Chizuko Carlisle have emitted a haunted, almost troubling vibration in sound and sight combined, however, this latest offering – three solo shows from Cheryl Pope, Audrey Hasen Russell and Raymond Saá – initiates a feeling of humor, albeit laden with postmodern gravitas, that has been previously elusive if not well-concealed. That is not to say that this exhibition doesn’t carry the subjective turbulence of shows gone by, but somehow each artist approaches their media with a stroke of satire; an ability to see past the oppressive ideals which inform their works by adding elements of sparkles (Russell), tassels (Saà) and corny anniversary lettering (Pope) to balance the tension.

Image courtesy of the author and Dorsch Gallery, Miami.

Bone-crushing tension and domestic strife pervades Pope’s Matter of Fact, a litotic and definitively titled exhibition that seeks to illustrate the balances and struggles constantly at work inside conjugal homes. The emphasis on our masculine-feminine relationship in Pope’s active works involves countless sets of fine china and standard porcelain dishes; the ritualistic ‘serving’ gestures with dinner/flatware are implied specifically in a film that recalls the seemingly endless routines of wives serving husbands and children, husband-wife trade offs to cook and clean, and the unspoken words in between these mundane household routines. Pope alludes to a feminine sensibility in this series; highlighting the inherent delicacy of dishware by fashioning it into dangerous shapes. She underscores a frustration; a restlessness with the stereotypically ‘nuclear’ home and seems to disrupt that rhythm in the guise of heavy, screeching, often weaponized porcelain. Nevertheless, and no doubt intentionally evocative of the confusion inherent in quarreling, the searing noise of the plates against the wall that permeates the show make absorbing all of these complex processes difficult.

Image courtesy of the author and Dorsch Gallery, Miami.

Russell’s Gold Slaw focuses on natural textures and their interplay with man-made forms in a much more esoteric deployment. Drawing on her childhood impressions of rural Eastern Tennessee, Russell coats a web of tree branches in lime green felt, drapes gold ribbon on various twigs, and shows drips of honey-colored rhinestones running onto the bark then gathering onto plates seemingly pierced by the wood itself. This conversation continues with another structure of twigs issuing from two graffiti-streaked cinder blocks, echoing the honey drops of the ‘felt tree’. A digital print collage of the white painted ceiling of Russell’s studio is pinned on the wall, with glittery emerald plants seeming to grow from behind the roof itself (an irony of man and nature, since the pants look startlingly genuine. Not bad, coming from a craft store!).


Image courtesy of the author and Dorsch Gallery, Miami.

Nearby, blown glass orbs reveal mini ‘moonscapes’ at their juncture with the wall; the appearance of cottage-industry glass vessels and extra-terrestrial soil illuminate the obvious distance in understanding between human kind and the universe beyond. A similar feeling is evoked from a back-lit mountain scene crafted from yellow glass embellished with mounds of orange felt, with the sensation of a wheat field on the floor below made from hand-cut foam plastic.

Image courtesy of the author and Dorsch Gallery, Miami.

Saá’s sensitively executed, large-scale paintings borrow their collective title from a 1942 work from Duchamp created for Breton’s seminal First Papers of Surrealism exhibition in New York wherein the artist laced the space in a web of white thread making it near-impossible for patrons to effectively absorb works on view. Saá’s only literal reference to the title appears in the string-like swirls of purplish dark paint set against a silvery white background, but more accurately refers to his observations of natural environments in spreading out his compositions on overlapping leafs of paper. One work, in particular, shows a delicate row of painted tassels, somehow adding a touch of elegance (which tassels may well do in domestic environments) to the otherwise straightforward paintings. Saá seems determined to retain the simplicity of painting, but adds sculptural elements to demonstrate the complexities of negotiating two-dimensional space. His monochromatic exercises are laden with innocence, but informed with ably appointed expressionist techniques; the balance is ultimately struck between bold three-dimensional forms and subdued two-dimensional abstract imagery.

Image courtesy of the author and Dorsch Gallery, Miami.

On the whole, the Pope – Russell – Saá show at Dorsch leaves the viewer feeling invigorated and curious, wondering what the natural world is really trying to tell us. Our own domesticated environment often veils the view, but these three artists have decided to step past it, yielding a playful, often provocative perspective. If there is one slightly negative assessment of the lot, it is that Pope’s multimedia extravaganza seemingly overshadows the efforts of Russell and Saà, who both  possess no less intellectual strength in their installations than does Pope[.]

This post was contributed by Shana Beth Mason.

 

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A Hybrid Trifecta: Pope, Russell & Saà at Dorsch Gallery