Nike Schroeder: ‘Counting the days’ at
Show + Tell Projects
Presented in collaboration with Walter Maciel Gallery
By Shana Nys Dambrot
Through February 18th
Nike Schroeder is one of the better known figures in the loosely-termed “textile arts” wing of contemporary art, which is fine because although she doesn’t use literal fabrics per se, she does work in permutations of thread and canvas. But despite that as well as her work’s salient qualities of sculpture and installation, what Schroeder accomplishes can be fundamentally understood as painting by another means. Her current exhibition at Little Tokyo pop-up Show + Tell Projects exemplifies the cadence of her more abstractionist sensibilities, a kind of soft-focus Op-Art in which pure color is deployed and dissolved as the cascading drape of the gently shimmering unspooled rayon thread itself enacts the goals of abstract painting, becoming both color and line at the same instant.
Counting the days brings together new and recent selections (some seen previously in her 2015 Walter Maciel exhibition, some made in the interim) are drawn from a pair of the artist’s ongoing series — Convex/Concave and Fragment — both exploring formulas of abstraction that speak a Rothko/Martin language of chromatic conceptualism, in contrast to other more provocative figurative and narrative embroidered works. Instead of by needle, these gradient staccato color-fields are composed by hanging multihued rayon threads from custom-made canvas panels. The rayon gossamer accrues in her bunchings enough weight to engage gravity and thus be held in vertical sway, affected not overmuch but quite poetically by the slightest breeze. Her structured canvas/panel armatures are tiered with terrace-like protrusions that hold rows of thread at different depths off the wall, generating physical space between hanging rows of thread, wherein ambient light may also be seen at play. Slight variations in the position of these anchoring tiers organize straight lines and chevrons, upwards and inverted, that set, like the armature of a loom, the colored lines upon their vectors. The undyed portions of thread, the empty space between tendrils, and the white wall behind all conspire in a not-quite-illusion to fulfill the boundaries of a conventional painted composition. The effect conveys simultaneously the sense of being created and the ruin of unraveling — of being, if you will, drawn and erased — by the same gesture.
The installation 75 Faces, a site-responsive mixed media work of variable dimensions, sees ceramic masks attached to the wall, either expectorating or inhaling one of a sweep of black threads festooned across the room and gathered into a central hanging obelisk of tresses. The installation requires physical engagement with the architecture, floor to ceiling; and like the gentle stirring of loose threads, it encourages in the viewer immediate mindfulness of the movement and airflow through the space they share with it. A monumental and meditative cat’s cradle, a Zen kind of entertainment, and a complex study in both organic, fractal math and the energetic power of speech — the semantic facets of “thread” in all these contexts is metaphor-ready. Schroeder’s facility with hybridizing high art ideas, craft world materials, and a hint of mindful awareness reflects the increasing obsolescence of conventional distinctions between genre, object, and experience of our cultural moment.
Closing Reception. Sunday, February 19th from 2-5pm please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org