Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Paper beats rock AND scissors

City Gallery
994 State St., New Haven, (203) 782-2489
No Rocks, No Scissors, Just...
Through June 28, 2009.

Edge and surface. Color and texture. It is the confluence of these attributes that provides so much pleasure in Jennifer Davies' No Rocks, No Scissors, Just... show at City Gallery. The one-person exhibit showcases her collaged paper works.These are all abstractions, and consonant with the stylistic groove of the City Gallery artists.

Davies uses both handmade and manufactured papers. She stains them or prints on them—some are leftover cutouts used in making monotypes, scraps recycled into new art—and distresses the surface. Edges are torn. There are creases and crumples; even the manufactured paper appears worn and wearied of fiber. There is a density to these works that is riveting. The various pieces of paper used in each work have rich character, whether the source of that is the intense color or staining or the distressed surface or a combination of the two factors.

One tall vertical work, "Top Shimmer," appears to bleed from the top—the lighter, more open part of the composition—down to its dark, blue-black depths. Sky and ocean. The gray area up top has been wet; the ink bleeds and spreads. Thin torn pieces of paper are affixed in the middle, as though the sky is breaching the surface of the ocean.

Like many of the works, "Compelled Rethinking" is notable for the way the ink adheres to the mottled paper surface, speckling or coating it along long vertical, diagonal and horizontal creases. It's abstraction but I also see landscape in its juxtaposition of form and color choices. To the right is deep water, the paper pigmented black and dark turquoise. Pressed up against this water is the shore, sandy speckling of burnt sienna and dark brown. Hard against the torn left edge of this section is a thin boundary or turquoise and blue. The "west" is marked by expanses of mottled burnt sienna. These effects are enhanced by Davies' overlapping and folding the torn pieces of colored paper.

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