Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pain, Healing, Relics



The eight minutes video is a painful, shocking start to Stephanie Patton's show Private Practice at the Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans.  Band-aids covering the artist's face and neck delineate a rough shape, like the ébauche of a sculpture in mud. Blind, deaf, mute, she hesitates before tearing them slowly from her skin, one by one, with a sharp gesture. The only noise in the background is her breathing. At the end of the performance, she looks at the camera with a calm gaze. Meanwhile the viewers, fascinated, cringe, laugh nervously at times to relieve the tension. Marina Abramamović, David Wojnarowicz have expressed their personal pain in their well-known performances. Patton in her poignant video, Conquer, is overcoming  pain and in the process, reborn. It is a great introduction to the four large pieces hung on the walls. Valor, Meeting, Strength, Intersection made of padded vinyl, batting and muslin appear soft and cuddly. The act of sawing gives them a  motherly touch and the color white refers to hospitals, clouds or just a glimpse of paradise. Healing, soothing, they provide a restful landscape for a tired soul. The multimedia artist manages with her works to deeply disturb and then comfort, generating a whole gamut of emotions in one room.

The Shape of Relics from Troy Dugas occupies the other side of the gallery and assembles a large number of pieces organized by themes, resulting in a colorful display. A careful look reveals the work done with minutiae: unused labels, assembled, shredded, juxtaposed to produce large compositions including portraits, still lifes, abstract landscapes, mandala-like. The artist uses the material with virtuosity and transcends the difficult media, avoiding the pitfall of creating ornaments.
One can take a mental walk through well organized gardens, enjoy a colorful bunch of flowers or mosaic-like portraits of young men which could have adorned a Roman villa. The most daunting works are the large landscapes or mandalas with an oriental flavor. The sumptuous colors gold, red, green shine like precious stones. Two blue pieces evoke Delft porcelain. The adventure can start when looking close or from afar, the narrative comes from the labels or the composition. The works are a reminder that the contemplation of beauty can generate mystical experiences.



Two artists from Lafayette, Louisiana... to follow

photographs courtesy Arthur Roger Gallery

"Valor", 2013, Stephanie Patton, Vinyl, batting and muslin 81 x 81 x 15 inches
"Still Life #1", 2012, Troy Dugas, products labels on paper 50 x 38 inches
"Fine Vieille", 2011, Troy Dugas, vintage French liquor labels mounted to paper, 59.5 inches x 59.5 inches

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