Nowhere Backwards at Des Lee Gallery showcased an excitingly cohesive collection of prints and printed material, drawings, and sculptures.
Randy Bolton’s digital prints on canvas are massive and engaging – evoking memories of childhood stories and illustrations that contain a sense of authentic foolery; as soon as you are certain you understand the source, your mind assures you that the image displayed cannot possibly be the end to the story as you remember it because of its sinister edge. The images of these altered experiences are so familiar, but their accuracy cannot be confirmed, nor can the snapshots the artist has provided of the narrative’s beginning and end. That childhood tale of a friendly, animate snowman didn’t end in complete bleakness, right?
Michael Krueger’s prints and drawings are optimistic in their detachment from the real world. His lithographs lack the drudgery of reality; their saturation and marks are mentally constructed, created through an observable, honest-to-goodness love of drawing. Krueger’s drawings follow the same paths – dead trees stand starkly against brightly colored shapes referential of cloud constructions near horizons at dusk. The work is re-envisioned, not necessarily recomposed. It’s like a filter has been placed over everything to relay the fact that no individual experience is the same, our interactions with reality are incredibly subjective.
Tom Reed’s filter works a bit differently from the former two, mixing familiar codes in very unfamiliar ways. His landscapes are completely invented – spaces within spaces that could never exist – but are drawn in such a classically heroic and iconic way. These scenes are so romantically created that you cannot help but think the artist longs for these spaces to exist, and moreso to exist within these spaces. The drawings are bright and welcoming; secret microcosms of a non-existent world. Reed layers many substrates under his drawings, including pages of children’s activity books, which anchor the work in boyhood naiveté. The totality of information cannot be understood in this space as the viewer suspends reality and drifts into a nostalgic daydream.
While narrative cannot be avoided at this exhibition, the focus is on the snapshot. Through remixing, reinterpretation, and even invention, the work allows for an artist-encouraged, viewer-allowed break from reality. Our understanding of how accurate an experience is with a certain situation or space or memory is completely reversed and altered based on the individual artist’s needs. Comparing these romantic views of the world with the actual world around us is the key to understanding the need for such an invention. The contrast is arrived at only after seeing the real, physical, and known world’s converse.Bookmark / Share / Print