Color Out of Space
Lowell Ryan Projects
A lot happens in the room at the Lowell Ryan group show Color Out of Space, so much that it seeps into more than one dimension. In large-scale mixed-media paintings and sculptures that take the very idea of mixed media to new places, five artists address not only unconventional materials, but eccentric perspectives on reality itself. Across assertive stylistic divergences and intuitive imagic resonances, one motif emerges from the cavalcade. Mutations manifest in extreme pattern-seeking, anthro-botanical lifeforms, and synthetic, pulsating viscera, as a poetic, science fiction-inflected gesturalism squirms and emerges.
The painting-based works are large enough to fully explore the physical and conceptual terrain they chart; but it’s the glistening, witty, seductive, repulsive sculptural sprawl that activates not only spatial but material awareness. These are works by Galen Trezise, made of expanding foam, spray resin, spray paint, acrylic, synthetic and sometimes human hair, epoxy resin or clay, mica and dichroic pigments, silicone, and steel. With titles like Peripheral Self and My Heart My Hole they overtly reference anatomical moments from legs to anuses, clustering globular, gristly, intestinal, glitter- and hair-encrusted sections into loose arrangements suggesting skinned flesh, but remaining tenaciously abstract.
Also toeing the line between abstraction and narrative symbolism is a ferocious painting by Nasim Hantehzadeh. A field of wild alien flowers, dentated like Venus fly traps, these seemingly sentient botanical organisms are rendered in oil pastel, colored pencil and graphite on paper. At a scale of almost 8 x 15 feet, the stature of the figures confronts the viewer directly as near equals, and also allows the expanse of blue, roughed in oil stick surfaces to breathe itself into a gestural color-field abstraction. Across the gallery, another striking blue—really more of a teal—and richly textured 8 x 16 foot expanse of abstraction nestles into an architectural armature of radiant yellow. A major work by painter Mark Flood, The Women’s Cult sets up a chromatic take on a ceremonial frieze, filtered through iterations and studio practices that involve, among other things, kitschy lace applique used as an embedded stencil to create plasmic layers, geologically pooling pigments, and material illusion.
Kysa Johnson’s 9 x 10-foot blackboard painting uses chalk and pencil to tremendous generative effect, offering a complexified fractal schematic of what could be quantum physics or the ravings of a mad scientist. A visionary obsessiveness animated by unseen forces is softened with prismatic gradient pigments infused into the algebraic cloud. More upbeat but no less strange is “The Architect” by Laurie Nye. At a majestic ten feet tall, its cascade of puffy gold lame begins as a waterfall of golden tresses spouting from atop a schematic oil paint portrait and ends in women’s feet grazing the floor. Not so much connected as forced together, this cheerfully dissonant work demands attention like a diva, but as with all the pieces in the show, it’s the nuances of its materialism and the strangeness of its disposition that sparks the joy.