LESS
Alika Herreshoff, Jennifer Perry and Laura Wulf

June 2 - July 1 , 2000 Reception: June 2, 8 - 10 pm

Exhibiting new work by three Boston artists, "LESS" features artists whose work emphasizes a use of line and formal composition to achieve a quiet, poetic elegance. A surprisingly experimental spirit is revealed in each artist's work; Perry floats intricate designs packed with detail and a unique use of a "loaded" material (hair) onto a calm undescribed space of white paper, Wulf etches lines into the smooth emulsion surface of photo paper which has been exposed to an even color; (usually black, white, amber or blue) and Herreshoff combines scientific illustrations, his own cartoon characters and memorial phrases into an eclectic "chart" filled with curiosity.

Jennifer Perry carefully isolates delicate line drawings in a vast horizonless space emphasizing the firm perspective rules which exist in each rendering. The walls and planes of these idealized "rooms" or "spaces" are described by thin parallel lines, playing off the traditional illustration technique of "hatching" but Perry uses a single hair to make each line. The hair is sewn through the surface, adding pin-hole dots to the linear design at two edges of each plane. One hair is tied to another to create longer strands and these trimmed ends add loose curves, knots and arcs that activate and reveal the dimentionality the otherwise rectilinear layout. The scale changes that perspective architectural drawings imply are personalized and often contradicted by the use of hair to make the line drawings. Planes that would only illusionistically overlap in drawings actually overlap in these low relief sculptures which in turn employ the translucency and color of the hair to cast shadows that further layer the spaces depicted.

Laura Wulf looks anew at photography by using its end result as her starting point. The rich coloration of the geometric compositions gain a softer, spiritual quality that references Agnes Martin as much as Sol LeWitt. Moving away from her earlier work which included imagery in the photographs, this series is bravely minimal. The use of line and compositional restraint adds a visual clarity to these works that allows us to see the surface effects of the scratches in the emulsion which ripple the pristine flatness of the shiny paper. Elegant and rhythmic these sets of mounted and scratched color or black and white photographs strip down pictorial form to its most essential elements: color and line. The effect is refreshingly direct and magnetic, creating a rich framework that encourages a viewer's associations to develop.

Alika Herreshoff also lays out carefully rendered forms onto areas of flat, unmodulated color, painted in this case, and references both etching and contour line techniques from illustration. Herreshoff uses a restrained tonal palette and a Mid-West or Washington State colloquial humor ( he is from Seattle ) to breathe life into this world of pictograms. An overall folksy quality is deftly achieved iconographically, without using the "outsider-art" awkward handling of the paint. The initial humor of these cartoony figures, pictured separately in a few smaller pieces, slips away as we recognize the underlying "scientific" illustrations of muscles and breasts and mean-looking bees injecting venom. Compositionally diagrammatic, the obscured meaning of these works paired with the identifiable regionality keeps the viewer looking around for more clues and discovering the details that enrich the paintings. - James Hull

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Video of "LESS" Installation


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