Monday, November 3, 2014

Dazzling, Newcomb Art Gallery

 Un Monumento às Fantasias Descartadas ( A Monument to Discarded Fantasies) from Andrea Fraser is a festive introduction to the Prospect.3 show at the Newcomb Art Gallery on the Uptown Tulane campus. The site specific work is an accumulation of left over beads, baubles, clothes, feathers, garlands from the Rio Carnival and the heap of abandoned objects instills melancholy. Assuming it is intentional, the Christmas tree shaped composition refers not only to Mardi Gras but also to the quasi secular celebration taking place two months before. However, the pile of shiny, decorative, lifeless objects feels contrived. Soiled, crushed, shattered trinkets would bring spontaneity and genuineness to the installation.
Monir Farmanfarmaian's works shimmer along the walls, surrounding the center piece. The geometric wall sculptures ally the sobriety of minimalist shapes and the richness from the glitter to reach a perfect mixture of Islamic inspired motives and minimalist influence, defying all categorization. Farmanfarmaian has perfected the techniques of cut mirrors, mosaics and reverse glass painting to create the mainly monochrome, silvery works, activated by the viewer's reflection: a successful amalgam of East  and West.
In keeping with her quest, Ebony Patterson fills a room with a new body of works created for P.3. Mixing paint, beads, glitter, flowery wallpaper, she stages black bodies lying in a lush nature or overtaken by raucous celebrations. The human form dissolves in the luxurious vegetation or the party's decorations. Primal calls lead to Mardi Gras festivities or a search for paradise in a communion with nature. Paterson keeps us guessing and wandering in her celebratory landscapes.

Black is for funerals. According to Hew Locke, black is also for parades. In his site specific installation The Nameless, mythical heroes drawn with cords and beads on a starry background, come alive on the four walls of the room, encircling the visitor. Referring to our collective memory, childhood's nightmares or fairy tales, the overpowering figures (about twice my size) are a mixture of symbols, cultural and historical references like the demon with angel's wings or the Medieval warrior riding a lion. In a new world, the pageantry of semi-gods brandishes Kalashnikovs, the symbol of modern weaponery.

Each artist is presented with a concise informative wall text and if their works are influenced by diverse backgrounds, the curator found a common discussion.The exhibition  is a reference to a 1959 show organized at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Totems not Taboo, about the dichotomy of objects
Flawless, dazzling!

photographs by the author:

"Un Monumento ás Fantasias Descartadas" ( A Monument to Discarded Fantasies), Andrea Fraser
with on each side, wall sculptures from Monir Farmanfarmaian
"...shortly after 8- beyond the bladez", Ebony Patterson, 2014
"The Nameless", detail, Hew Locke

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