Okay Mountain, Austin

Through September 19
by Claire Ruud

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      Polymict at Okay Mountain, 2009
      Installation view
      Courtesy Okay Mountain

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      Ludwig Schwarz, Untitled, 2007
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      With Polymict, curator Nathan Green offers an innovative curatorial approach to a beautiful, if somewhat conservative, theme: an homage to form and color. Green, a painter himself, selected five paintings apiece by Logan Grider and Ludwig Schwarz to hang on the gallery’s walls. Then, he asked two younger artists, Warren Aldrich and Lillian Gerson, to spend a week in the space creating an installation in relationship to the paintings. The project channeled the youthful exuberance of Aldrich and Gerson into a clearly defined framework. They created three playful assemblages of furniture, scrap wood, mirrors and other found objects. The well-edited installations never overwhelm the paintings (which can easily hold their own). Rather, the relationships between the two- and three-dimensional works sensitize the eye to form. The symbiotic relationship here reinvigorates the visual pleasure of abstract form.

      Surface reigns supreme throughout the exhibition. Grider’s paintings, all less than two feet square, are the smallest and most seductive. In Double Dealing (2009) for example, unusually shaped blocks of solid color—browns, reds, blues and black—suggest depth at one moment and flatness the next. Schwarz’s paintings also embrace their flatness, but repeated patterns often create the effect of layered cutouts or puzzle pieces, as in Untitled (2007). But in each instance, the illusion ultimately flaunts itself as such, and flatness prevails. Aldrich and Gerson’s installations successfully play on the flatness of the paintings surrounding them, extending the investigation of the painted surface to three-dimensional mixed media.

      The exhibition’s biggest triumph, however, goes to the curator. In a recent solo show, Green, primarily known as a painter, began exploring the possibility of incorporating installation into his own work. The results were mixed. Presently, the artist’s curatorial endeavor suggests a way forward. In Polymict, the paintings by Grider and Schwarz act as a set of parameters. Experiments in three dimensions occur strictly within those parameters. The paintings propose the questions to be asked and the ideas to be investigated, and the installations respond in kind. Eureka!

      Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good.


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