Saturday, August 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Edith Newhall

Edith Newhall has been reviewing gallery exhibitions for The Inquirer since April 2005. She is a former staff writer for New York Magazine, where she covered the New York art world in features, exhibition reviews and interviews with artists. Her articles on the arts and travel have also been published in ARTnews, the Washington Post, Travel & Leisure and Condé-Nast Traveler. She is the co-author of "In Artists' Homes" (Clarkson Potter, 1992).
Things have changed since 1961, when Jasper Johns made his Painting Bitten by a Man, an encaustic painting out of which he actually took a chomp, thereby embedding it with a vague eroticism (that Johns, a quiet gay man, kept the painting in his personal collection for many years before giving it to MoMA only added to its mystique). Now, a few decades down the road, another "Painting Bitten by a Man" — this time an exhibition at Vox Populi titled after the Johns painting — brings together the efforts of two artists, Brian Kokoska and Jonathan VanDyke, who seem happy to let their queer sensibilities permeate every aspect of their art. I did not see VanDyke's presentation of his three-hour performance, Cordoned Area, on opening night, but have since walked around the large piece of canvas on Vox Populi's floor on which two male dancers cavorted with each other and paint, covering their clothing and the canvas (and part of the wall behind) in smudges and smears of vivid turquoise, purple, orange, and pink. The residue makes for a lively abstraction, but you also realize how deeply and broadly the human body is impressed and implicated in this work. Yves Klein, who famously directed nude women to roll around in blue paint on canvas, is the obvious touchstone.
The three artists who have solo shows at LGTripp Gallery have more in common than abstraction, but that is not immediately apparent because they use three different media — photography, paint, and yarn — and they occupy three entirely separate spaces (the installations of solo shows I've seen in the past here tend to overlap a little more than these three do). In fact, all three are exploring linear forms, strong contrasts of light and dark, and texture. Paul Rider's new series, "Drawn to the Light," comprises large, black-and-white, extremely close-up photographs of torn and molded paper shot from above. They could pass for close-up images of architecture, desert landscapes, or nude human figures, and the parallels between these and Edward Weston's photographs of dunes in the American West from the 1930s are clearly intentional.

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