Sunday, January 08, 2006

Tornados and Elephants and Bears, Oh My

I had hopes of seeing a lot more art and taking some photos along the way during our first, First Friday event of the year, unfortunately I left home without my camera and spent a bit too much time socializing to make all the rounds I had originally planned. So here, I decided to write about the show I most enjoyed this weekend, "Whether Absent or Present, They Were Equally Distressed" new paintings and sculptures by Nicci Herren shown at FLUX Space. This was a closing event for Herren's works as they have been up throughout December, but with the addition of two pieces not previously on view. A year ago I couldn't have told you anything about her work, but last spring at FLUX Spaces inaugural show I had the chance to view a few of her small, minutely painted panels. I was surprised. These charming paintings depict vast landscapes and huge sky's but with a sly, humorous touch of wit and ambiguousness. One painting depicts a polar bear crossing a desert, while another shows an elephant standing in a large open field under a looming sky, and my personal favorite "universal terror or salvation from above" a beautifully serene scene of numerous flying saucers hovering over a quiet farm house. (see image below in my January 1st post) Within each of her paintings there is always a sense of dread and/or something amiss. This aspect of the work is what gives them resonance while her attention to miniscule detail in the paintings draw me in for a closer inspection. In her best works these elements are captivating, though I do feel that some of the pieces feel premature and not quite as finished as the others in the show. I think with the scale of the paintings and the close inspection they require, puts more pressure on the artist, and the need to be put to task on minute problems in presentation and paint handling. Aside from her paintings she had on view 3 of her "Vacant Domain" sculptures. (see one of them above) these attractive architectural pieces, each nearly the same though of different scales, break up the space of the gallery to great effect and feel at home amidst all the paintings of open horizons. All in all, this is a wonderfully put together show and a great use of the small scale of the FLUX Space gallery and I now look forward to seeing what Herren's next body of work will show us...

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