A R T L E T T E R
The Timely Magazine of Art
|#33||<!>previous/ next>!> Artletter index||July 15, 1996|
Paul Kittelson at Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery 7/31 Pleasantly poppy, the show is more fun and more interesting than Borden/Butler's normal parade of monochromism. Kittelson's outsize candy sculptures maintain an elegant balance between scale models of "real stuff" and autonomous forms in their own right. The only stumble is the series of five lollipops with breasts, which disappoint with their sophomoric literalism. Far superior are the pastel lumps on the lawn, looking equally like giant dinner mints and hardened sacks of concrete. -Mark Allen Hiroshi Sugimoto at the CAM 9/1 Rows of superficially identical photographs become a visual mantra, their monotony short-circuiting one's expectation of a specific focus or conclusion. The Buddhas' halos make a pattern like 50's formica against their dark backgrounds. Sugimoto's works radiate a timeless calm. Buddhas, seascapes and empty antique movie houses are each the vehicle for an attempt at transcendence. The seascapes are the most effective: attention is focused on utterly empty, but somehow alive and interesting, oceans. The weather is calm all over the world. There are no big waves. These are works an urban cynic feels stupid to love, presented with such restrained good taste it makes one want to scream.-B.D. Troy Woods at Robert McClain and Co. 8/10 Dull and trite, but well done. Relying on the obvious elemental contrast between wood and steel, hard and soft, organic and metallic, Woods restates the old Frankenstein idea with technical panache. The viewer empathizes with the wooden shapes, helpless biomorphs which are supported, displayed and invaded by cold steel instruments. RW, RS, RI, and RL, achieve a simple balance between the two elements. The brackets stand stiffly out from the wall, defying gravity; the wooden forms sag in flaccid capitulation. HB, Stereometric, Lunar, and Vantage are slightly overcomplex; the viewer is distracted by clever but irrelevant machinery. Still, Use and Content refer to recognizable inanimate objects, blunting the clear flesh/steel opposition. The steel racks have a handmade quality; the wooden elements are more sucessful at being seamless. -B.D. Artletter is available free the 1st and 15th of every month at Brazos Books, Lawndale, Glassell School, Inman Gallery, Menil Store, CAM Store, Brazil Cafe, Houston Art League, MFA bookstore, and Diverseworks. Mail subscriptions $15/year. Address letters to: Bill Davenport, 801 Tulane St., Houston TX 77007 (TOP OF PAGE 2) Mario Perez at Brent Gallery 9/28 Not the same show as last year. Three new paintings and some small drawings. Perez has gone official, showing at the drawing center in N.Y. and producing big polished paintings. Untitled is the best, a field of frankly decorative streaks of blue-gray paint contain a multicolor starburst with the graphic zip of a logotype.-B.D. Janet Smartt at Brasil Cafe 8/12 Low intensity, aimless abstractions. Smartt deserves credit for avoiding horrendous cliches of brushwork and the decorative color schemes which would place her works squarely in the tasteful office furniture category, but achieves little else. The small scale of the paintings constrains and diminishes the gloppy paint gestures; these works were painted with the wrist, not with the whole body, like small scale reproductions of ab-ex work. They have the look of passion without the substance. If it is any consolation, many less interesting abstractions hang in museums.-B.D.