Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Finding reliefs at City Gallery

City Gallery
994 State St., New Haven, (203) 782-2489
Meg Bloom: Mono No Aware
Through June 29, 2008

Meg Bloom's June show at City Gallery has its origins in a fortuitous accident a few years ago. Bloom happened on a method of working with fabrics, heat and wax that is rich with creative possibility. She has pursued this path in different ways since then, creating sculptural works, collage and installations. For Mono No Aware—the title is a Japanese phrase referring, according to Bloom's artist statement, to "the awareness of the transience of things"—Bloom has created a series of reliefs constructed over cardboard. Incorporating organic and synthetic materials into her creations, Bloom distresses them—stripping, waxing, layering and burning the materials.

Some evoke landscapes, the torn, singed and melted earth-tone fabrics stretched over an underpinning of clotted wax or twigs. In "Transience #11," a dark crescent curls around the right side of a clustered, hilly relief. Tinted in an iridescent blue, the crescent reminded me of a waterway fouled by a petroleum rainbow. Others suggest decay. The fabrics and paper are mostly burned and torn away in "Transience #12" (see image). We see the decay of flesh over the skeleton of twigs. Regeneration is also hinted at. Dried seed pods burst through the fabric in "Transience #14." Life emerging from death.

All of these pieces are constructed on a cardboard base, which is also stripped, waxed and burned. As a visual element, the corrugated surface offers geometric linework, symbolic of order. This order is a nice counterpoint to the seeming randomness of the other elements. Of course, transformation—be it regeneration or decay—is a process that unfolds according to set physical rules. But change can appear messy.

Bloom's reliefs succeed not just on the metaphorical level. As abstractions, they have a rich, coherent complexity. They are both beautiful and, in some cases, grotesque. This is a case of process serving form serving content. Bloom is destroying to create and deconstructing to construct.


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