On view at Andrea Rosen Gallery is the unusual pairing of artists Karla Black and Nate Lowman, two artists whose works address a general groundlessness, or rather, whose works evinces an almost petulant objection to groundlessness. In partnership with Mary Mary and Maccarone, this exhibition, closing June 19th, displays recent works of painting and sculpture, executed in materials ranging from traditional alkyd paint on canvas to its self-conscious coupling with retired gas pumps, to guileful manipulations of paper that serve to threaten the material’s core integrity.
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Black’s play with her mediums inserts a harshness into pieces whose initial presence is soft and unassuming. Materials lists read like a child’s cubby inventory: sugar paper, chalk, wood glue, glitter hairspray, ribbon. Division Isn’t (2010) is menacing precisely where it is agreeable, offering the viewer a profusion of indefinite signifiers, toying with one’s notions of the tropes that may manifest themselves—veils, gendered color associations, bedding.
For Lowman, a similar haze of ambiguous familiarity accompanies his piece, (Title Yet to be Determined) (2010), comprised of gas pumps and scale painting of a gas pump. It, in common with the undermining beauty in Black’s work, presents the tricky burden of being both aesthetically gratifying and nudging at inevitable relations to the politics of oil, technological progress, and media simulacra. Works with text and more specific imagery invoke an equivalent temper of questioning otherwise comfortable systems of logic.
Much in concert with the work of Black and Lowman, Andrea Rosen Gallery has embraced the artists’ common spirit of indeterminacy and highlighted intricacies of each of their practices, managing to arrange a strange balance in a manner that is elegant, complementary, and fun to be in.
Karla Black, born in Alexandria, Scotland, in 1972, earned a Master of Philosophy in “Art in Organizational Contexts” from the Glasgow School of Art in 2000, and an MFA from the Glasgow school of Art in 2004. In 2011, Black is to represent Scotland for the 54th Venice Biennale. She lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland.
Nate Lowman, born in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1979, earned a B.A. from New York University in 2001. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
– Jordana Swan