The Austin Chronicle

Arts Review

Reviewed by Salvador Castillo, May 2, 2008, Arts

'Folded, Torn, Cut, Woven, and Pulled'

Blanton Museum of Art, through May 4

Sometimes, preparing for that perfect drawing is a difficult task. Looking down at that blank sheet of paper can be intimidating. The infinite possibilities shout out from each microscopic bump of the paper's surface. Maybe it's a colored sheet, and the hue has a nice gradation, or it's a sheet of kozo paper, and you notice the two sides of differing textures, but you just can't bring your utensil down to make a mark. So you resign to the beauty of the paper. There's nothing you can do. Or can you? Realizing that this sheet embodies different aesthetic properties, you let the paper do the talking.

This is the scenario that is suggested in an intimate show at the Blanton Museum of Art. "Folded, Torn, Cut, Woven, and Pulled" consists of five artists' works of paper. To give it some art-historical context, you could read the blurb about minimalism's effect on artists gravitating toward paper as a material and medium in its own right. Yet even without that bit of info, you can see how the work is pared down to its base and still able to express and describe. The understated presence of these works matches the gallery's location in the museum. Give yourself time to look, and you will find it.

University of Texas senior lecturer in studio art Sarah Canright starts things off with paper on paper. Canright weaves equally sized strips into a stable matrix. Unlike a spreadsheet or a chessboard, this latticework of horizontals and verticals has a soft warmth. Eleanore Mikus also creates grids on paper with nothing more than a single card. By merely folding and refolding, Mikus is able to create lines. They appear painted on, but they are wounds from being forced into a labored state – both delicate and hardened, like the lined faces and calloused hands of your parents.

A fast and furious hand rends paper asunder. Stephen Antonakos tears a bright-green sheet in a curved motion, revealing the white fibrous center. This pulpy hara-kiri is repeated in Lilliana Porter's work as a strand of black yarn crumples the inkless print. There is no ink and no text, but both refer to the repetition of printmaking. With no ink and no repetition, Tom Molloy's repeat appearance in Austin is just as violent as it was at Lora Reynolds Gallery last summer.

The cause for environmental alarm lately has a lot of thoughts floating around about what the world would look like without any evidence of human civilization. There is still a lot of activity from the barren views of the desert or tundra to the violent crackling of torrential storms. Life carries on. Clearing your workspace of the usual mark-making tools does not stop art. Building images and meaning can endure with a better understanding of the surface holding all of that now. Creation carries on.

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