Four students get a chance to show off early in their careers at Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art.
Rebekah Templeton’s Sample 3 rounds up four first-year Master of Fine Arts students, whose paintings, sculpture and video are as professional looking as—and in some cases more interesting than—a lot of mature work shown in some galleries. The prices are reasonable—from $250 to $2000, for a large oil painting— and a purchase here is a good value for a collector.
Personal narrative is the core of works by Matt Kalasky (Tyler), Tyler Kline (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts), Aubrey Levinthal (PAFA) and Stuart Lorimer (Tyler). This is not to say that Sample 3 has a coherent style or subject matter. These artists are mavericks, and the show is like four small solo installations.
Kline’s painted aluminum-foil constructions—inspired by the paranormal, cathedrals and turbulence, he says—are the most unexpected in the show. The artist (who had a solo in 2008 at Little Berlin before becoming a member of that collective) has been working with tinfoil for years, exploring themes of ghosts, monsters and human communication via inexplicable means (ESP, telepathy, etc.). His tightly twisted tabletop works, “Krakin” and “Schweinhund,” look like shamanist objects commemorating midnight bonfire rituals.
“Krakin,” which looks a little like renderings of that mythical beast made eternally annoying by the recent, goofy remake of Clash of the Titans, is tied up with lime-green string that suggests something that could wreak havoc in the room if unleashed. In a funny twist, it also suggests bad craftsmanship, which is surely not the case. “Schweinhund” (the German insult “pig-dog”) with its open mouth and horns at rakish angles, has a devilish alertness to it. The contrast of the fierce creatures with the lowly, home- economics material is odd. But maybe that’s the point; demons often inhabit households, in people and relationships fraught with problems.
Kalasky parodies Star Wars in his video “HARRISON FORD IS HARRISON FORD IN HARRISON FORD,” an eight-minute piece notable for scenes of the artist standing at a beautiful, blue-tinged, painstakingly handcrafted Star Wars command post, talking to an unseen lover.
There will always be abstract painting, but here, it has irony. Lorimer’s “Nothing Outshines the Future” is a large oil on canvas whose depopulated, mostly gray image appears to spell out the letters “I U O,” with the O heavily overpainted to suggest a Christmas wreath. Whether this refers to the IOU of students graduating with heavy debt burdens and few job prospects or to a more universal lack of Camelot waiting in the distance, the work is forlorn and strangely compelling. If I were buying art for a bank, I’d grab this one right up.
Levinthal’s small, autobiographical paintings of a birthday cake, a dress, some shoes and legs suffer from wallflower-y reticence. Narrative paintings are best when they are wildly ambitious and fueled with obvious emotion; Levinthal might have done better to portray the whole scene of that childhood birthday party to which nobody came with angst and anger, or even with cool detachment. It would resonate more than these tidbits on canvas do.
This is the third year the artist-run Rebekah Templeton has rounded up MFA students and given them a platform to display and sell their art. It’s a great idea for a show, providing needed feedback to the students and the opportunity for collectors to score something by the next new art star.
Through June 19
Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art
173 W. Girard Ave.
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