Monday, October 17, 2016
MARILYN JOLLY SINCERELY AWKWARD at Circuit 12 Contemporary by Todd Camplin
Dada was a short lived art movement in the early 20th century with earth shattering influence on contemporary art. At the time of this movement, artists were questioning the definition of art and they began expanding what constituted as fine art. Some even attempted to negate art by presenting anti-art works that broke conventions of established critical norms. Mid to late century, Neo Dada, Fluxus, Conceptual and other art critical movements were created to explore that question of “what is art?” I reflect on Dadaism, because Marilyn Jolly’s work at Circuit 12 Contemporary seemed to be playing with similar themes, only with a twist.
I was fortunate to have a friend with me this month to see all the openings in Dallas. We had visited one gallery before we dropped by Circuit 12 Contemporary. We looked at a group of paintings that had rough treatment that made the work look earthy. Some objects were also attached to the canvas. I commented that much of this work was more decorative because each move felt forced, and for the sole reason that maybe the particular feature on the painting was popular. But when we saw Marilyn Jolly’s show, we could tell that although the rough unfinished feature was there, items were not randomly added to the paintings or sculptures, but rather were essential parts of the art work. Also the work varied a great deal so you got the sense she was interested in experimenting with form, rather than repeating what was popular.
But what about that twist I was writing about in the first paragraph, you might ask? Well, I see Jolly’s work as having the feel and style of Dada, but she is not asking the same question. That question has already been opened up and discussed, so Jolly’s work is in little danger of being questioned as art by at least academia and gallery hoppers like myself. Rather, Jolly is interested what the taoist might describe as the uncarved block. It is the moment where things are left unfinished. This is not a bad thing, but rather part of why her objects are so attractive. There is mystery and the allure of what could be or what will be, which is captured in these finished objects and paintings. I see that Jolly has embraced the experimental, unfinished enterprise that so defined the look of Dadaist. Jolly also has the benefit of history, for she has likely drawn influence from “outside art” or sometimes called Brut Art. After all, the Webb Gallery in Waxahachie isn’t far from Dallas.
Marilyn Jolly will be showing a ton of her work in a show titled Sincerely Akward at Circuit 12 Contemporary until October 12th. You can also find her teaching at the University of Texas at Arlington. I may have to find my way over there and talk to her about her teaching philosophy. I wonder how her art production influences her teaching methods.