An eclectic group show at Bellevue Arts Museum showcases cutout ingenuity in media ranging from paper to tires.
“Have scalpel — will paper-cut.”
That could serve as the motto for the variety-packed new group show at Bellevue Arts Museum, except for one crucial detail: It isn’t just paper that’s being cut in these 100-plus works from around the globe. It’s steel. It’s foliage. It’s even, in one case, an automobile tire.
“Cut Up/Cut Out,” a traveling exhibition organized by the Bedford Gallery of Walnut Creek, California, takes cutout ingenuity to extremes. And while not every piece is a knockout, there are plenty that are flat-out astonishing.
‘Cut Up/Cut Out’
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. free first Fridays, through Oct. 22. Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue; $5-$12 (425-519-0770 or bellevuearts.org).
Among these: Lucrezia Bieler’s cut-paper “Barefoot in the Wild Garden,” in which a woman seated at a wrought-iron garden table nonchalantly accepts the presence of a large tiger prowling nearby. “Garden” has the detail of the most fastidious etching, and its play of tree shadows on the subjects depicted — especially the tiger’s stripes — is a tour de force of obsessive technique.
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Bieler’s abstract counterpart is Rogan Brown, whose two pieces, “Small Kernel” (laser-cut paper) and “Magic Circle Variation 6” (hand- and laser-cut paper), are filigree-fine creations: bas-relief sculptures built with tissue-thin layers and wispy tendrils to create 3-D mandalas.
Cal Lane, working in steel, ranges from the fetishistic (“Panties Can” creates lace panties from an oil can) to the political (in “Sweet Spill,” an oil drum plasma-cut into dainty floral patterns leaks its contents onto its plinth).
Wim Delvoye’s “Untitled (Car Tyre)” offers a similarly perverse wit. It’s one of many rubber tires that the Belgian sculptor has transformed into objets d’art. His website, wimdelvoye.be, reveals that he works prolifically in every medium imaginable: steel, ceramics, film, tattoos and more.
As you stroll BAM’s galleries, you learn to expect the unexpected: Nikki Rosato’s lacelike silhouette portraits created from road maps (the titles tell you who the sitters are and where they’re from); Hillary Waters Fayle’s elaborately hand-cut leaves, with the carved patterns slightly at odds with the veins; Kyong Ae Kim’s huge skulls made from hand-cut drafting film; and James Allen’s “book excavations,” in which Allen cuts his way through a book’s pages, selectively keeping certain elements. In one of these, “Onomatopoeia,” he reduces a comic book to nothing but combat exclamations (“WUHHHNG!” “UUMPPHH!”).
But the show isn’t just about novel technique or startling tensions between materials and content. Many pieces use nothing but masterful paper-cutting craft to sublime effect.
Robert Brinker’s hand-cut paper “dragons” distill the mythical creatures to their essence, pushing them toward the edge of abstraction. Amy Oates’ “Collective Portrait #8: All the people I encounter each day” is a lovely vision of intricately interlocking lives that fills a whole wall. Andy Singleton’s three-dimensional works, which seem to float under their glass casings, are exquisite in the way they make shadows as much a part of the piece as the paper itself.
Other entries take a philosophical turn. Chris Natrop’s cut-paper “Maybe Matter Matters Most” is a pastel-hued wall hanging that seems to pit its tangible fragility against the innumerable voids that Natrop has left in the material.
Throughout this invigoratingly eclectic show, there’s as much to appeal to the mind as to the eye.