Thursday, November 20, 2014


Gabriel Dawe Training Thread (Spenser) re-post of my article

What comes up must come down.

Gabriel Dawe celebrates his temporary installations’ deinstallation in this exquisitely beautiful, conceptual show at Conduit.  Vincent Falsetta seems to be deconstructing his paintings and Sarah Ball is helping to pull apart the last remanence of Victorian morality with her depictions of inmates which show ‘bad character.’ Three engaging shows with very different aims, but I see almost an undercurrent in theme which runs through each show.

Gabriel Dawe’s show of thread and drawings had a strong connection to artists like Sol Lewitt or Christo and Jeanne-Claude. All the evidence of Dawe’s pasts shows was present without the actual construction of the piece. Dawe’s displayed the artifacts of his installations; his drawings and thread where what was left from his presentation of a finished work. You might say his thread was on stage for a moment and the curtain went down when he deinstalled the art piece. In this show, Dawe is following a rich, all be it brief, tradition of Conceptual Art. The concept that these art works were planned, executed, shown briefly, and finally removed is part of what makes Conceptual Art so unique. Unlike a painting or sculpture, Dawe is not interested in the product or object, but rather he is creating a brief aesthetic experience. If these thread pieces are anything like Sol Lewitt’s paintings, then I could image Dawe’s art being installed and uninstalled by later practitioners of Dawe. Like a musician playing a piece from J.S. Bach by following his notations, an artist could play Dawe by installing his piece through his instructions.

I have written a great deal on Vincent Falsetta and his body of work and I wasn’t sure I could say anything new about his paintings. But it occurred to me the Falsetta might be deconstructing his paintings.  What I mean is that he is showing the parts and process of his paintings, much like his collection of index cards which tell a similar story. What is important in this show is he also has paintings that completely cover the canvas with his technique. This set of paintings are being paintings.  While the art works that look more unfinished feel as if they are becoming paintings, they are in reality also being paintings. The idea of becoming has a great deal more tension and feelings of unresolved issues. Both groups of paintings seem to talk to one another. I can imagine each group of paintings wishing they were the other paintings. The feeling of resolution is cathartic, but the feeling of becoming is exciting and dangerous.

The little room for Sarah Ball is perfect for her little portraits. We are still dealing with the residuals of Victorian Morals, though that era is over a hundred years gone. Ball explores the 19th century idea of physiognomy or the judgement of people’s ethics by their outward appearance. Look at the contemporary studies of juries, they are more likely to convict someone less attractive for the same crime than someone more attractive. In her own way, Ball is poking at this issue of our hangups that good looks equals an ethical person. Although, even before I knew much about her content, these little portraits were still quite charming. I wouldn’t mind getting to know one of her paintings better.

I wish I could have focused on one artist at Conduit Gallery, but Nancy Whitenack  and Danette Dufilho make it hard to pick a favorite, so I had to write about all three. The curtain comes down on all three shows, November 15th.

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