‘Suspended Narratives’

Lora Reynolds Gallery's first group show, 'Suspended Narratives,' is a cleverly developed grouping of artworks that have obscure or hard-to-find meanings

<i>To Disappear Enhances</i> by Roni Horn
To Disappear Enhances by Roni Horn

Suspended Narratives

Lora Reynolds gallery, through Nov. 19

<i>House Fire</i>, a digital c-print by Gregory Crewdson
House Fire, a digital c-print by Gregory Crewdson

Lora Reynolds Gallery has opened its first group show, "Suspended Narratives," a cleverly developed grouping of 18 artists curated by the energetic Maureen Mahony, who sought out artworks that had specifically obscure or hard-to-find meanings. The artists are mostly from New York or the East Coast, although Jason Singleton represents the local scene well with his shockingly personal photos, Lettin You Go.

Mahony relies on clipped text or literary references for some of the suspense. David Lieske, Roni Horn, Fiona Banner, Douglas Gordon, Ed Ruscha, and Matthew Brannon actually use lettering in their work. Banner's piece, Times (1800 pt full stop), is simply a Styrofoam sphere sitting on the floor. Its title – the font – is a practical or utilitarian counterpoint to its superclean, minimal appearance. Horn's Key and Cue. No. 1209 – To Disappear Enhances is an aluminum sculpture with vinyl lettering of the first lines of an Emily Dickinson poem. Another literary sculpture is by Sherrie Levine, who's known for referential works and is here inspired simultaneously by Gustave Flaubert's A Simple Soul and conceptual artist Jeff Koons in Loulou, a bronze sculpture of a parrot.

By not spoon-feeding viewers the whole story, these artworks hover in the mind and crave categorization. Your mind wants to label all the seen images, and it does so quickly and without your consent. This quirk of perception is particularly well exemplified by Dike Blair's Untitled. A gouache and pencil on paper, it's primarily a minimal drawing of a window with some drops of water on it. The foggy picture plane is interrupted by a small, dark bump at the very bottom. Compositionally, it reminds me of Sterling Allen's interest in "amateur" photo framing devices. I immediately labeled the bump the top of a head. Mahony called it a "possible hedge." It operates like a Rorschach test first, then it lets you choose whether it's abstract or representational and if it's a painting or a drawing. It is deliciously unclear and yet familiar and mundane.

Many of these artists fully intend to befuddle viewers and often do so humorously. Christian Marclay's video Telephones is a loop of folks answering "hello" endlessly, conversations that go nowhere. Gregory Crewdson burns down a house just to photograph it, then digitally adds in onlookers and other elements to create an epic David Lynchian streetscape; it's unclear what is happening in the complex photo. Clearly meant as miniature awareness-raiser, Tony Matelli's Constant Consciousness is a series of brass elements painted to look like squished-out cigarette butts. They were installed in a little array on the concrete floor, but at one point they were kicked into the cracks at the edge of the wall in an attempt by an Austin artist to "help clean up." The sculpture was rescued and replaced in its intended setting.

This is a great chance to see a strong group of artists who don't exhibit in Austin often.

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Suspended Narratives, Lora Reynolds Gallery, Maureen Mahony, Jason Singleton, lettin you go, David Lieske, Roni Horn, Fiona Banner, Douglas Gordon, Ed Ruscha, Matthew Brannon, Times (1800 pt full stop), Key and Cue. No. 1209 – To Disappear Enhances, Emily Dickinson, Sherrie Levine, Gustave Flaubert, A Simple Soul, Jeff Koons, LouLou, Sterling Allen

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