Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book of Rocks, Flowers & Birds, Counter Cartographies, "Precious Horshes" and a Multichannel Video

                      
 
The result of a fateful series of autumn 2007 collaborations between local artists and New York artist-activist Paul Chan, The Front is everything co-op galleries are supposed to be, freewheeling places where art and ideas are bandied about with little regard for the art market. While most St. Claude area galleries also fit that description, the Front may be more miscellaneous than most. So it's no surprise that Korean artist Yooni Nam's BOOK OF ROCKS, FLOWERS AND BIRDS is not really a book but a series of ink drawings inspired by a 17th century Chinese painting manual, or that the drawings reflect her "transitional existence" between Eastern and Western cultures. Even so, it's hard to know what to make of these deftly circumspect studies, except that her CHRYSANTHEMUMS (detail above) ink drawing on mulberry paper is sublime. But the dislocations only escalate in Jeremy Drummond and Hoang Pham's COUNTER CARTOGRAPHIES series where continents and nations are sliced, diced and reconfigured into alternative topographies that resemble maps of the world as seen through a kaleidoscope or spun through a Cuisinart. Ethnicities and nations can seem fixed in our minds, yet these whimsically conceptual geographies remind us of the fluidity of continents and DNA over time. All lands and peoples have undergone migration; they are where they are because they moved there from elsewhere.
     

Yet more miscellaneous is the PRECIOUS HORSHES expo curated by Dave Greber. These emerging artists' works emit occasional sparks, but the standout is Jacob Edwards, whose gut wrenching ink drawings such as CRAZY HORSE (or RHINOCERHORSE), pictured, are demented in the grand expressionistic manner of Ralph Steadman and Ronalde Searle at their darkest. In a very different vein is the 5-panel multi-channel video by David Webber, top, a kind of electronic ballet of everyday things reduced to abstract swirls of vertiginously rotating colors. It's all oddly painterly and hypnotic, effects lyrically reinforced by an electronic music soundtrack that Webber also concocted on his home made synthesizer. ~Bookhardt    
BOOK OF ROCKS, FLOWERS AND BIRDS, COUNTER CARTOGRAPHIES &
PRECIOUS HORSHES: Mixed Media Group Exhibition + Video by David Webber
Through Nov. 7
The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave., 920-3980; www.nolafront.org