09 Jan Two for Tribeca
The New York City gallery scene has been shifting recently and taking up residence in Tribeca where a collection of exciting new galleries are displaying compelling work.
I visited two in the last week, both of which had fantastic exhibitions showcasing two artists, Edie Fake and Lucy Puls. Both shows were visually alluring and thought provoking as the pieces hung dramatically against stark white gallery walls.
Edie Fake is showing at Broadway Gallery. Entitled “12th House,” the exhibition alludes to metaphysical maps and diagrams made by alchemists, spiritualists and students of the occult. With the Mojave Desert as inspiration, Fake uses the landscape as a starting point to render precise execution of line in geometric shapes with fluorescent colors and familiar motifs on pristine deep black backgrounds which lends stark contrast to the vivid colors and makes the foreground pulsate to the eye.
While precision is present, perfection is not and this was my favorite aspect of the paintings. As you get closer to the pieces you can see the artist’s hand (in tiny uneven strokes) which removes the machine-made quality you may perceive from a short distance. These pieces are tightly rendered and Fake’s skill at exactitude is impressive. There is also a site-specific mural in the second room which covers an entire back wall.
These pieces also address large concerns, such as climate issues—water scarcity, high temperatures, natural disasters—but the pieces are so lively and exacting I couldn’t help but think of the video game Bejeweled!
Regardless of personal connection, these pieces are beautifully rendered and do draw you in. I lingered over the entire show and took time to absorb all the imagery. They have a mesmerizing quality in their demand for attention. Fake certainly makes a point, whether or not you pick up on his larger messages.
Moving next to the Nicelle Beauchene Gallery for Lucy Puls’s “Offline Perception,” I found the show had a certain enchantment despite the artist’s fallout theme. The show brings together three bodies of work that Ms. Puls has been developing over the course of a decade: “Geometria Concretus” (2011-2015), “Accumulatus Verissime” (2016-ongoing) and “Delapsus” (2017-ongoing).
Puls takes on the subprime mortgage crisis of the late aughts, photographing the interiors of empty, bank-owned homes around the Bay Area in California as she witnessed the ephemera of lives lived in those homes before being abandoned to memory—the tragic closing aspect being the absence of maintenance and lack of stewardship under a bank’s new ownership.
Her focus was on what was left behind—giving the pieces a ghostly quality. It is the materials, the mediums and the formations that give these pieces an evocative touch of enchantment for me. Pigment ink on wide swaths of paper, some of which stretch up to 130 inches tall, cascade down the walls or drape down from hardware like liquid or a giant piece of vibrant fabric and almost conceal the photo below its surface.
Her colors are those of nature: mud browns, spring greens, floral reds and pinks. There is a lightness—almost delight or fantasy—in some of the execution. One piece in particular features a punch bowl with accompanying cups full of resin “liquid” that echo the paint colors of the piece, as if you’re seeing a tea party gone topsy-turvy in a forest glen.
Using a variety of creative tactics to manipulate an image, she also exhibits some photographs which are stunningly three dimensional in appearance, giving them a sculptural look. It’s hard to accept they are flat images; they so fool the eye. Adhesives, gouache, polyurethane resin, mica and oxidized metals are her mediums of choice to achieve the illusory compositions.
I loved this show and found it captivating for its ability to juxtapose a grim situation with a softness and ethereal quality. While I don’t know if this effect on a viewer was intended or not, it did make the show come alive for me. Some of the pieces definitely had a foreboding quality but there was also a lot of beauty in the pieces, despite the elements of decay and despair.
Puls clearly has strong feelings about, and reaction to, the financial crisis of that time period and its resulting consequences but she reveals them with a sense of compassionate revelation.
Edie Fake and Lucy Puls will be on view through January 15 and 22 respectively.