Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Enchanting Forms

The exhibition Enchanting Forms curated by Boshko Boskovic, RU Program Director, unites three artists Richard Haines, Letitia Quesenberry and Karol Radziszewski whose diverse works revolve around the human form, manifesting in site-specific installation, video and drawing. Comparing the body to a sentence the artists offer us ideal tools to examine how physical identities are socially crafted, in constant flux and non linear.

New York based Richard Haines’s newly commissioned serie of drawings Brooklyn-Louisville comprise of a wall piece and works on paper. Haines’s primary focus is on portraiture of male characters, charting a relentless search to capture poses that most eloquently express the emotional and physical state of his subjects. A master of draftsmanship his charcoal lines and contours are often disjointed yet together form a coherent composition. Haines's 'sketches' provide clear delineation of the clothing, conveyance of texture and depiction of the body language and attitude of the wearer, and as such comprise finished works. In a world bombarded with images the artist believes illustration gives a necessary counter balance from photography. Describing his urge to draw as primal his works are always sketched from live models that pose for the artist. Haines demonstrates the virility of his sitters yet reveals their vulnerability at the same time rendering them often nude and exposed.

Louisville based artist Letitia Quesenberry text based interactive installation Tender Button is inspired by Gertrude Stein’s book Tender Buttons which is one of the greatest Modern experiments in verse. Quesenberry’s use of text emphasizes evocation and imagination rather than representation, yet subtly implies sexual connotations. By departing from conventional depiction of the body the artist attempts to capture concepts independent of gender. Juxtaposed between works that emphasize and illustrate the corporeal, Quesenberry delves into semantic abstraction, inviting the viewer to experience the work through touch. Made out of wood panel, polished plaster, metal pushbuttons and Christmas lights the spectator gives final meaning by interacting with the piece. Confronting us with unexpected associations we are forced to question the meaning of words, which is perfectly in line with Stein’s own work.

Warsaw based Karol Radziszewski’s video Backstage, filmed inside an art gallery is a collaboration between the artist and a group of young men who responded to an ad soliciting their participation. During each casting session, Radziszewski questions his subjects on the topics of shame, exhibitionism and voyeurism. This work not only provides a reexamination of the art historical difference between appearing naked and posing nude but also examines how people rationalize being without clothes in an art venue versus a public space. To break down mental barriers and overcome embarrassment, Radziszewski asks his models to gradually take off their clothes over the course of the session, and to his surprise many are ready to engage willingly for the sake of art.

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