"Finish/Line" Exhibition Essay, 2007
In the traditional interplay between drawing and painting, drawing has been associated with artistic thinking, a way station between the interior impulse and the finished work, a linear figuring-out of the form being observed. These days, however, many artists invite drawing to the mixed party that is the finished painted surface.
What we now see shared by many painters is a fully developed idiom in which the drawn and painted, the contingent and the fleshed-out, live side by side. The result is a hybrid pictorial space that offers a persuasive mirror of our current lived experience.
This hybridization can be traced back to the dizzyingly inclusive approaches of such Pop-era artists as Robert Rauschenberg and Sigmar Polke, whose work combined found images, gestural marks and other elements. In the eighties, David Salle notably juxtaposed outlined figures with more fully painted forms, setting up counterpoints that echoed the contrasts between everyday life and the phantasmal circus of media images.
Artists who live, as most of us do, surrounded by multiple channels of digital imagery, seem drawn to this multi-modal approach to painting as a way to represent the constant negotiation between different states of experience that is such a feature of our lives now.
The artists in Finish/Line bring their own meanings to this way of working. Gina Triplett and Matt Curtius collaborate on their paintings as well as their illustration work. Their paintings here show a fine interplay of linear, more decorative elements referencing folk motifs with fuller renderings of animal figures. Some of these paintings take as their subject the polarities of gender relations, with deer, bunnies and bulls playing with and against their stereotypes.
Rebecca Rutstein’s paintings are rich in geological references, from lava flows to mountain ranges, to the shifting of continental plates. Linear relief-mappings of mountains share space with painted mountains; a branching pattern could be a network of rivers or blood vessels. For Rutstein, these barely-outlined forms act as scaffoldings, inviting the viewer into a space for imaginative play where multiple readings are possible and scales can shift in any direction.
Anne Krinsky has developed a way of working informed by grid composition, with subtle geometries inflected by recognizable imagery. Her found images of flowers and birds, with their delicately drawn lines, hover like daydreams in their fields of color. Lines also define some of the faceted shapes, leading to unexpected optical reversals from line to plane and back again.
Dechemia (the collaborative team of John Gibbons and Isobel Sollenberger) has created a site-specific wall piece for this exhibit. Many of their linear elements are created by relief marks in poured and cast plaster, giving the perceived “lines” a wonderful tactile presence. At the same time, their imagery, with its suggestions of planetary maps and esoteric cosmologies, lend the piece the feel of a speculative diagram, the fine lines like barely manifested ideas.
Miriam Seidel, 2007
Curator, The Borowsky Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Corresponding Editor, Art in America