To kick off the Dumbo Open Studios Weekend in late April, Platform Project Space opened MOD, a five person show commanding strong appeal, curated by Sharon Butler. As the title and press release indicate, modularity, modernism and mods, or modifications in contemporary gaming, are all potentially at play both in the individual works and together as an installation. Each artist’s contribution holds a single wall or area in a small room that’s comfortable, easy, and open. The formal language of color and shape is nuanced to suggest personal and organic qualities and intimate spaces. No mystery here. Instead, curiosity openly hovers in close examinations of the human touch, in the detail and care given to small moments.
Evidence of physical making appears as scratches, stitches, unfixed “errors”, and graphic qualities handcrafted with authority and finesse. Color-saturated hues fill the room. Images retain a strong two-dimensional assertion of flatness; they are luminous yet not atmospheric. Largely abstract with an emphasis on clear strong edges, still an overall sense of warmth and conviviality abound. A shared interest in geometry among the works begins with Sharon Butler’s painting San Miguel (2021, oil on canvas, 52 x 45 inches). It shifts off the grid, leaving spaces between dominant vivid orange rectangles and the surrounding white linear pathway. There is space to move, navigate, and discover the beauties of in-exactitude and vibrating graphic interplays.
In Sheila Pepe’s large wall piece, Patience (2022, rope, yarn, paracord, fabric, nightie, hardware, 120 x 55 inches) unidentified crocheted shapes intermingle in deep black and cool gray. Neither scarf nor afghan, Patience has the gloriously indeterminate dip and fall of non-utilitarianism. It stretches boundaries as it makes its way to the floor for ballast. Nudging up against this dominant mass is a lake of ultramarine and a corner of teal green, edged by a fluttering of pale blue. Meandering lines of earthy greens, a lonely orange and stark white, are knitted or sewn and crocheted together stitch by stitch.
Luminous clusters of monochrome blues, reds, and brownish-greens fill Steve Hick’s four-part composition, Untitled LXIII (2022, oil on linen, 48×56 inches). The repetition of rectangular configurations brings vitality, personality, and light. They play nicely with Adam Simon’s suite of three smaller canvases comprised of transparent panels and silhouetted figures. Within Simon’s overlapping shapes, beautiful hues congregate and subdivide- reds become violet become brown become orange, through subtle transitions. Light and shadow emanate throughout both Hick’s and Adam’s paintings, where each canvas reflects a variety of color intensities, a graphic sensibility, and an underlying embrace of grid-based structure.
A breath of achromatic light holds the center of the room with Peter Dudek’s low laying sculpture, The Beaver is Back, (2022, plaster, metal, photos, variable dimensions) creating a settling feeling. Emphasizing modular structure, his layered architectural sculpture is comprised of rectangular spaces and shadows, integrating plaster blocks and photographic elements. The piece is accented or extended into an adjacent corner by two small gray rectangles on the wall, a subtle touch of installation space in an otherwise wall-focused presentation mode in the gallery. The embrace of visual language within each artist’s work is a lively conversation shared between the pieces, overheard by all who enter the room. Color speaks in resonantly unique statements.
Like Jazz solo riffs in a jam session, where each player improvises from a central composition, melody or theme, in MOD each individual voice elaborates their own vision of color, shape, and space through a shared context of contemporary image-making. When I attended the opening night, the symbiotic relationship between viewers and images in the exhibition was palpable. This feels especially true in our era when art is so often viewed digitally and in reproduction. MOD offers the immediacy of our physical experience and is a welcome respite from the prevalence of so much dissolving into mere information.
All photo courtesy of Etty Yaniv
MOD curated by Sharon Butler. Artists: Sharon Butler, Peter Dudek, Steve Hicks, Sheila Pepe, Adam Simon MOD is on view April 22 to May 21, 2022 at Platform Project Space, 20 Jay Street #319, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Director: artist Elizabeth Hazan
Carol Diamond is a NYC based artist and educator.