Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sally Tittman's Show--A Response

The graphite-on-paper drawings look simple until I give them the attention they deserve. What appear to be stones also look like balls of plasticine, or peaches. Or even meteorites, as Sally writes in her website, because no scale is given. Though they all float on paper, they convey their various weights according to their different heights from the ledge of the sheet. The graphite gives them a rough surface, but the roughness is not uniform. They appear bumpy, and these bumps make them individually real.

If bumps give spheres their charm, joints give limbs their pathos and grandeur. The limbs of the three wooden sculptures do not hide their joints; more, their arrangement presents their joints for examination. The first piece--spine and seven limbs--lies flat on the floor. It has been laid low, it has fallen, one of the limbs lying on top of another. But it also resembles tree roots, and so, has the potential to give life. The crossed limbs may be read, in a witty way, as fingers crossed.

The fourteen limbs of the second piece struggle to get up, pushing their spine against the wall to help themselves, raising the spine to slightly below waist height. The limbs tense and totter in various positions, their joints both fulcrums and stress points ; it is simultaneously plant and animal. The work is a most original depiction of effort. What detracts from the artistic illusion is the presence of four short stakes holding up the spine. Though they are placed discreetly against the wall, and though a sculptural support is an accepted convention, the stakes drain artistic force from the limbs.

In the third piece, the spine has left the wall and now walks on five limbs, waving five bones of a bony plate, like that of a stegosaurus. The other two limbs have become the head and tail of the animal. The found lumber (same as that used in the first two sculptures) gives the impression of serendipity, and the screwed joints give the sense of improvisation to this depiction of prehistoric and present joy.

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