Fleisher/Ollman’s “You Open So Late, You Close So Early.”
Fleisher/Ollman Gallery is known for exhibiting works from visionary outsider artists like James Castle. But because the Center City gallery’s winter exhibit—this year titled “You Open So Late, You Close So Early”—features emerging artists, it’s unusual to see such enterprising work in the invitational show.
Painter Shawn Thornton is a pleasant surprise. His colorful, heavily worked oil paintings—
containing complex interweavings of lines, nodes, dots and symbols—are styled similarly to cartoonist Rube Goldberg’s machines, with even more layers of connections. Several of the five paintings look like tricked-out game boards—
Candyland or Parcheesi for four-dimensional thinkers. The artist, who underwent brain surgery and radiation therapy for a tumor on his pineal gland in 2006, is puzzling out life’s flow, energy and meaning right in front of your eyes. Deeply personal yet somehow universally relevant, the works are fascinating and gorgeous.
Steven and Billy Dufala’s digitally rendered photo of an improbably long sneaker is another puzzle. The iconic shoe curls into an S-curve that evokes snakes, skateboarding and roller coasters. This virtuoso Photoshopping is a funny and unexpected piece from these artists who showed rough-hewn installations at last year’s Fleisher Challenge show.
The Dufalas also offer another interesting piece. Sledge Hammer is a seductive sculpture with a beautifully finished wood shaft that looks like it’s an entire small tree trunk. Next to this sturdy piece Nick Lenker’s fragile ceramic pots sit in a glass vitrine. The pieces mimic ancient Grecian urns, with repeated patterns and central images of nudes or draped figures, but despite classical themes, the pots are 21st-century constructs—the images are made with digital ceramic decals.
Nick Paparone’s mischievous and comical installation of a spinning breakfast special—two eggs, pancakes, sausage and bacon on a white plate—in front of a laminated poster of the universe explores today’s reality. Other notable works include Josh Rickard’s paintings of people with mutant noses (like Ed Paschke’s work) and ’70s-style hair; Mark Stockton’s figure drawings—particularly an 8-and-a-half-inch charcoal drawing of a young, monstrously pumped-up Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Clayton’s mini landscapes, C. Pazia Mannella’s snake-like zipper constructions and Jeremy Drummond’s aerial photos of suburban housing developments.
With beauty, masterful craftsmanship and dark humor throughout, this exhibition’s an unexpected holiday present. n
For more on the Philadelphia art scene go to fallonandrosof.blogspot.com.
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