2-D and 3-D worlds collide in "Dimensional Invention," a new show at Kirkland Arts Center.
Artists are often asked what form of art they create: painting, photography, drawing, sculpture?
These categories of artistic output have traditionally been related to questions about spatial dimensions. Two dimensional or three? On the wall or in the round? They also stem from processes that rely on thinking and creating in either two dimensions or three. But many artists now blur the division between these dimensional categories and create both flat works and sculptural forms in a fluid, mutually supportive process.
This is rich territory to explore and it’s the driving premise for “Dimensional Invention,” a group show at the Kirkland Arts Center, organized by Cable Griffith, the center’s exhibitions director. Griffith presents groupings of two-dimensional and three-dimensional work by six artists, some of whom are creating intriguing art right now. While there are aspects of every grouping by every artist that are fantastic, the curatorial framework of the show, unfortunately, falls a little … ahem … flat.
I could look at Claire Cowie’s weird and wonderful drawing and sculpture duo all day. “Homunculus (queen)” is a mostly white, lumpy human/animal figure that has produced a little offspring, which, in turn, has become host to a birdbath-ish form. The dripping paint and transmogrifying creature would seem to lead to a creepy result, but, instead the sculpture is oddly sweet and open to all kinds of interpretation. Cowie’s two-dimensional piece, a large-scale work of watercolor and ink on paper shares, similar qualities with the sculpture: cartoonish and biomorphic forms and a striking use of color and line against a white background.
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But, in the end, it’s a 2-D work hanging next to a 3-D work — and this is the case with several other groupings by artists. Rather than blurring the distinctions between the dimensions or presenting work that turns the categories inside out, the show mainly demonstrates how artists can successfully produce work in either one.
In his small wall-mounted constructions that layer images, translucent fabric and painted lines within and on top of slender wooden frameworks, Tim Cross comes closest to integrating flat and sculptural forms. Because of this and his smart title “Models for a Better World (for it, not us),” I wanted to like his work and I did … a bit. I’m not a stickler for perfection of craft, but, in this case, the untidy application of scrim on wood and paint on fabric created a visual barrier from completely entering — visually and conceptually — the intriguing forms.
Ben Hirschkoff’s installation “Sky Lines” was probably the most effective embodiment of the concept of “dimensional invention.” On the wall, Hirschkoff created graphically bold two-dimensional cloud shapes with adhesive tape on glass. This accumulation of curvilinear contours seems to float off the wall into the space of the gallery, becoming chunkier and stormier as three-dimensional glass forms in real space.
This interplay among flat shape and thick mass, vertical and horizontal planes and open space is a simple and charming expression of the creative potential of working within and in-between dimensional categories. Other works in the show hint at this generative depth, but the curatorial concept is mostly superficial.