There are painters who steer away from drawing, and artists who draw beautifully but rarely paint. And then there are the few who do both convincingly well. One such artist, Anne Seidman, moves between the two with such seeming ease that you realize she is concerned less with the media she deploys than with all the other factors that contribute to a completed painting or drawing: color and spatial relationships, tension, control.
Unlike Seidman's last show at Schmidt Dean Gallery, largely composed of paintings, her current show there is made up mainly of drawings, and the variety of configurations and color combinations she has explored in color pencil on paper over the last two years is exciting to see.
The commonalities between Seidman's paintings (there are seven here) and her drawings (15) are clearer than they've seemed before, too. I used to notice a slight difference between the palettes of colors she used in her paintings and drawings, for example, and thought the paintings featured the more unexpected color placements. In her new drawings and paintings, her color affinities seem more of a piece.
Many of Seidman's drawings are complex configurations of numerous triangular shapes that, in totality, form a shape reminiscent of a cloud, or the sole of a shoe. At times they can also suggest multicolored, multifaceted gemstones. The show's most recent drawings, from 2011, suggest a dissipation, even a shattering, of her tightly controlled forms. They're light and airy, rendered in an agitated, darting line.
Seidman's paintings have changed since her last exhibition, too. They're more resolutely abstract, more open, less finished-looking, and generally freer in form and color. She has allowed herself larger areas in which to experiment with colors and surface textures.
This show catches Seidman in motion more than her last one did, and that is the sum effect of the way she uses her pencils. Lines are densely worked to a solid area of color, or isolated as marks against white paper, and the intense energy of those gestures seems embedded in the paper.
Krista Steinke, who has Schmidt Dean's back gallery space, continues to photograph children at play, capturing them in uncanny moments that seem so surreal you suspect they're staged (though I doubt they are).
Some of these lush color prints date to 2006, however - I'm ready to see what Steinke can do with another subject.
Even if you're not intrigued by the curious and notorious output of the short-lived French writer Alfred Jarry (1873-1907) - his play
, which scandalized Parisians when it opened in 1896, and his "science of imaginary solutions," which he called " 'pataphysics," have influenced numerous artists - there is much to admire in the exhibition that Locks Gallery has mounted in homage to him, "The Insolent Eye: Jarry in Art."
Among the vintage treats: Max Ernst's bronze sculpture with a black patina, Bosse de Nage, from 1959; Man Ray's bronze sculpture Cadeau, 1921 (1970), cast from a real old-fashioned iron that he found in 1921 and spiked with nails, and a 1970 print of his 1920 photograph, Dust Raising, and a version of his metronome-turned-collage featuring his photograph of one of Lee Miller's eyes; a copy of Marcel Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Green Box), 1934, containing facsimiles of his notes for his sculpture of the same name, also known as The Large Glass, which is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and which was the subject of Man Ray's Dust Raising when he photographed it at Duchamp's request in his friend's New York studio).
Among the more contemporary contributions not to be missed: Rebecca Horn's two drawings that appear to have been rendered mechanically but are her own wildly spinning color pen and pencil gestures, and William Kentridge's astonishing animated film collage, in charcoal on paper, Ubu Tells the Truth (1997).
It goes without saying that Locks would have included works by Thomas Chimes (1921-2009), a Philadelphia artist represented by the gallery who found inspiration in Jarry and Ubu Roi, but they have gone overboard with eight paintings and a drawing. Chimes' early and late portraits of Jarry would have been just right and made this exhibition more succinct.