Noysky Projects: Tactile, Textural Works
By Genie Davis
Through November 12th
A Narrow Passage, at Hollywood’s Noysky Projects through November 12th, is a fascinating mix of abstract works. With textures ranging from waxen to silky, at first glance, the exhibition appears to be about unusual sculptural forms, the use of materials to shape images that appear hard but are soft, and soft, flowing images that are in reality, rigid.
But the show is more than that. Thematically, it explores highly personal themes of concealment, compression, and constriction; mysteriously transformative in its use of materials, the exhibition evokes images of bondage, gestation, and recreation. Artists Lana Duong, James Gilbert, Jenalee Harmon, Megan Mueller, Jenny Rask, Nicolas Shake, Katya Usvitsky, and May Wilson offer works that refer to or resemble the body, or how the spirit reacts to confinement of flesh, form, and material existence.
Lana Duong’s sculpture “A Boat Rock,” resembles both a buoy and a weighted human form. The bound mustard yellow vinyl hour glass shape at its center is poised between plaster and metal chain. It has aspects of a primitive totem. Duong notes her sculptures are formed to act as surrogate individuals, and question “the contemporary sense of self.”
Katya Usvitsky’s “Connection” is a masterful work in nylon and fiberfill. Usvitsky says that she treats her fiber “as if it were clay. I roll it. The fiber pieces look light but are surprisingly heavy.” Very female in form, the piece could be an image of eggs or cells, and there is the sense of a burgeoning here, as if these rolled fiber shapes could turn into butterflies, babies, or creatures from another planet. Tucked inside what were once pantyhose, the molded fibers are each tied off with string. The artist reshapes the processed material into something that seems alive and organic, something strange yet familiar.
Used to foraging and repurposing used materials, artist Megan Mueller says that she “frequently works with objects such as trophies and plaques” among the found objects she creates with. Here, Mueller offers two pieces, “SSSS” a hydro dipped frame and rope, and “Untitled,” using a hydro dripped trophy plaque and a coconut bra. “SSSS” evokes the skin of a snake or a geological form, the rope sinuous and coiled; the “Untitled” piece is a jungle image of branches and vines. The artist references gardens and the concept of time in her statement about her practice; the viewer is plunged into something that appears to be alive, contained within a visual form but ready to burst free, take over, swallow, capture. The untitled work, with its coconut bra and rich visual image of a fecund green-scape brings to mind the female; “SSSS” with coiled rope and square frame has a more masculine energy.
Jenalee Harmon’s “on or off (documentation is underway)” is an archival pigment print that Harmon explains is a “part of a series using material as a form of sculpture.” Indeed, the ruby red satin draping shown in the photograph resembles a sculptural work in process, or the bold draping of a completed form, or perhaps something in a magic act – a body about to be levitated under that material.
Other works play with what the materials themselves represent. Nicolas Shake’s “TPV: EGG 1.2017” looks at first to be yarn or wax, something malleable and even soft, but is created from hard substances, polycaprolactone, petroleum, and palm frond. Shake utilizes on-site creation to initiate works which he uses to define his impression of Los Angeles itself; from an initial arrangement he moves into in-studio creations, thoroughly infusing each work with what he has gained from each site he has worked at. This piece has a sweeping, thread or yarn like appearance – but is crafted from materials that are rigid and binding.
From James Gilbert’s hand-dyed purple canvas barricade-like sculpture, “It May Be Time to Rethink the Way You Think” to Jenny Rask’s spandex, cotton, and salvaged material sculptures, there is a play between hard and soft, on materials that shift between sewn fabric objects and sculpture.
The title of the exhibition, A Narrow Passage, gives the viewer pause – that passage may be our own perception, or it may be the way in which we are given to constricting, confining, and altering our own lives and that of other living things.