Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Not to be myth-ed at the Hygienic

Hygienic Art Gallery
83 Bank St., P.O. Box 417, New London, (860) 443-8001
Myth Building
Through Sept. 6, 2008

Three New London-area artists—Richard Lee Martin, Elizabeth Larson and Christopher Kepple—are showing very different work in the Myth Building show at the Hygienic Art Gallery. The show closes this Saturday.

Richard Lee Martin, a New London resident who has long been active in the music and visual arts scene, is represented with visual poems. His appealing Surrealist montages are composed in Adobe Photoshop and printed direct to canvas, giving them a surface akin to painting. Martin builds his montages with a wealth of imagery drawn from his own personal photography, cultural detritus procured at thrift stores and yard sales and the treasure trove of the Library of Congress. (Martin believes that by putting the various images "in play" with other images out of their original context, his work meets "fair use" requirements.)

Martin takes iconic figures—cowboys, top-hatted plutocrats—and places them in visual fields, letting the juxtapositions spark metaphorical narratives. In one work, pictures of a baby (the daughter of a friend) hover over an image of the construction of the Library of Congress. Behind the mirrored images of the baby, hovers a planet-like sphere and a bird spreading its wings. The deep background is taken up by imagery of nebulae shot by the Hubble space telescope. Layers of symbolism parallel layers of imagery. The repository of past knowledge (the Library of Congress) awaits a newborn's curiosity. The specificity of one new life exists within the context of a vast cosmos.

In another piece, Martin counterposes an image of George Bush with a still of Allen Ginsberg and some Beat friends from the underground short film "Pull My Daisy": a symbol of Death versus, respectively, a symbol of Life. Martin's digital colors are lush, unreal, metallic. Futuristic but also earthy as in some shiny iridescent mineral.

Larson uses layering, also. But in her case, she layers drawing and painting with text and collage to deal with issues like racism, media, genocide and violence against women. "Lowercase A" is a harrowing confrontation with the experience of rape. The two-panel piece combines stark painted representations of anguished naked figures and a threatening phallic missile with a hand-written account of a rape and its aftermath and roughly collaged excerpts from a text on the psychological and emotional reactions of rape victims. The somewhat stilted nature of her figurative work just adds to the intrinsic tension of her subject matter.

Most of Christopher Kepple's pieces are abstract paintings on found and recycled surface. Kepple's works have a lot of visual energy but the compositions felt unfinished to me—that the multiplicity of marks didn't gel into a coherent whole.

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Blogger thescope said...

Jen wolcin who was supposed to be in this show was unable to participate and they asked me to show a week before it opened. i made most of the works that week maybe that explains the unfinished feel. Still sold one so I guess somebody likes this shit

christopher kepple

3:46 PM


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