Currently on view at Mary Boone Gallery’s 745 Fifth Ave space, artist Math Bass has brought together a range of new sculptures and paintings that continue her equally meticulous and playful interpretations of the art object, twisting vaguely familiar forms and figures into foreign landscapes and minimalistic constructions.
Titled My Dear Dear Letter, Bass’s exhibition returns to her Newz! series of works, a body of paintings drawing on tracings from pre-existing shapes. Taking the form and twisting it, flipping or altering its orientation and then setting it free in a new context, the artist’s pieces become caricatures in space, comments on the shapes and forms that populate our everyday lives, and the act of gradual alienation possible when simple elements like position or ground are ultimately suspended.
This formal inventiveness is only compounded by the artist’s subtle and often surreal sense of space and line. Bass’s work is rich in color, deep primaries with little mixing that bring the canvases (especially when considered with the often vaguely figurative nature of her scenes) the sense of a comic strip or graphic. True to form, even the recurring figures in the artist’s work take on a certain degree of personification upon multiple viewings, their interactions and relationships establishing a strange sense of movement and action that often disintegrates upon closer inspection, only to reappear on the next canvas. Her pieces here are afforded an additional degree of context through their scale and execution Bass’s work in the show functions in shifts of focus, altering the image by scaling up the field on which it rests, a gesture that ultimately suspends many of the forms and figures familiar to her compositional style in a newly liberated backdrop. Moving between negative and positive space, these figures are turned loose, or perhaps allowed to shrink away, disappearing into an engagement with the canvas that feels more like a play on the concept of the relief or the grammar of optical art.
The show’s return to familiar ground is nevertheless an exciting one, exploring striking fusions of line and form, ground and color as compositional tools, but perhaps more notably, as animating agents, tools that not only define the space of the work itself, but equally draw narrative arcs through the work that linger in the viewer’s mind long after the first impression. References to positions of elements from piece to piece also draws this concept closer together, arriving at a show that feels not only like a combination of scenes, but equally of a broader universe of gesture.
The show is on view through July 27th.
— D. Creahan
Math Bass: My Dear Dear Letter [Mary Boone]