Size Matters

Two shows focus on proportional pieces.

By Roberta Fallon
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 12, 2010

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Hanging up: Andrea Modica’s "Schulyer Lakle, NY" is on view at Gallery 339.

This week, Philly hosts two shows focusing on size.

8x10 and Under” at Gallery 339 proves that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to art. While large photos may enfold you in their world and give you a quick hit of satisfaction, tiny images pay back viewers by forcing them to study the pieces and create stronger, more lasting relationships.

The show features 46 tiny black-and-white works by 11 photographers. Most are haunting images of a world where the footprint of man is small and nature is vast and unknowable.

The show has many outstanding pieces, including Michael Kenna’s Twenty One Fence Posts, Shirogane, Hokkaido, Japan which reduces the world to a bleak, snowy realm, a receding line of fence posts the only signs of life.

Richard Kagan’s surreal Monturque (Andalusia, Spain) is a hallucination of a shaggy hut that somehow mirrors the field around it. Linda Connor and Andrea Modica bring humanity to the foreground in works evoking the natural cycles of birth and death and the history of man living in nature. Stuart Rome’s new works on silver-leaf paper look like the surface of the moon and Jerry Spagnoli’s shiny daguerrotypes of Central Park—which shape-shift with the light—remind you of photography’s alchemical origins. These aren’t travel photos, but imaginative leaps into realms that may not exist.

Across town, “Very Very Large Drawings” at Gallery Joe includes a work so large the artist had to crawl on top of the paper to cover it with marks. Eight elephantine works on paper by seven artists prove large drawings can be inescapably seductive when their mark-making bewitches viewers into taking a contemplative journey.

Jill O’Bryan’s 11-foot untitled graphite drawing began as a rubbing of the rocky ground beneath her paper and was reworked in the studio. The piece evokes topography. Perhaps the image is the pock-marked surface of the moon. There is no repetitve pattern for the eye to trace, yet the work mesmerizes, casting a spell on the wall.

Elsewhere, the show is full of repeating lines and patterns that also hold the power to entrance. Linn Meyers’ untitled drawing with swirls of marker lines emanating from a central core will beguile. Sabine Friesicke’s Metropolitan Time , an eye-popping checkerboard pattern that evokes an office building at night, is also compelling, while Emily Brown and Sandra Allen’s representations of trees both have deep abstract passages that stick with viewers. Ani Hoover’s ebullient and watery field of spray-painted circles and dots in Polychrome Daydream (Orange, Green, Yellow) updates Monet’s Water Lilies for the grafitti and digital generation. These extremely large drawings—like the small landscape photos—weave their spells slowly and have the power to seduce. ■

For more on the Philadelphia art scene go to theartblog.org.

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