The gallery is filled with an immense variety of work: sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs and furniture. Across this astonishing diversity of media and methodology, the work of these four artists creates a profound impact; a survey of the gallery reveals some essential truth about which Larassa Kabel, Kathranne Knight, Guy Loraine and Jessica Teckemeyer are orbiting.
The work exhibited is monochromatic and all represents in some way the natural world – trees and acorns, horses, deer and wolves. For each of these artists the natural world is to be understood through a meticulous process of excavation, imitation, repetition and craft. The meticulous drawings of Larassa Kabel show us horses, the photographs of Guy Loraine – acorn caps, Kathranne Knight - branching forests, the flesh-like sculptures of Jessica Teckemeyer reproduce familiar animals; these subjects fill the gallery, but there is more to see – through the trees, as it were. The obsessive commitment of these artists to their works allows us to glimpse something about the world and human nature and to become that simultaneously grounded and transported.
The artist Melanie Peter has stated ‘Realism seems not like an end in itself, but like a portal to something truly new.” Larassa Kabel’s hyper-real horses create such a portal. Through the meticulous rendering of coat, mane, hoof, and sinew without external environment, shadow or ground plane we are held in a tense state of expectation and empathy. We question the horse’s arrive in this space and anticipate the repercussions of its continued fall. The exquisite craft disappears in a moment of profound empathy. In ‘My One and Only’ the horse is emerging from the paper, yet dropping from sight. How can such power be so unmistakably fragile?
The shorn, glossy creatures that roam through the gallery are the creations of Jessica Teckemeyer. They represent deer and mountain lions, but their familiar forms are coupled with unfamiliar postures and material properties. The familiar and strange are comingled so thoroughly that the viewer is conflicted – enticed and repulsed by these mutants. The material and fabrication of these pieces are mysterious, pristine and white, yet with a sheen that suggests flesh. In lieu of a pelt they have a glossy skin that invites our fingertips to caress. Their eyes glisten, but with a human scale and structure. We are invited to engage with these characters, these victors, victims and conflicted guests. ‘Fawn of Foe’ is a reclining fawn, masked with the face of a mountain lion. Through the openings in the mask we glimpse the eyes of the fawn and are drawn into her character.
The drawings of Kathranne Knight take us to similar territory through divergent methods. In her piece ‘Not Without Shuddering’ the image of a stand of trunks recedes to the center of the drawing, giving the sense that a truth will be revealed, or is in the process of revelation. The elimination of ground plane and sky creates a space of trunk, branch and broken void which captures and levitates the viewer. In her piece ‘See Through’ the subject dissolves in the process of her meticulous rendering. The parallel lines of the tree become background of the other trees through depth and recession. Leaves do not exist – we live in a work of structure stripped bare; we see the nature of a stand of trees as vividly as the body seen in a da Vinci anatomical drawing. Throughout the gallery the dichotomy of the tremendous effort expended in these pieces is contrasted with the evidence of profound reduction, clarification and synthesis.
The most extreme territory of effort is seen through the works of Guy Loraine. His efforts to track, record and reproduce the entire acorn crop of one white oak tree, during one growth season, is revelatory and almost worshipful. The seriousness with which the project is undertaken and the sumptuousness of the photographic images create a space of contemplation that would not be possible with lesser methods. In the collecting, mapping, cataloging, photography and printing we can feel and see the potential forest which could be through these seeds of great oaks. Large formatted matte print photographs like ‘Witmer Park Batch 47 No. 5’ present the acorn caps lovingly, seductively, and with a sense of vacancy for the missing acorns. Here, the opening of the cap gapes like a darkened globe and is the transformed, no longer the common fall sight. ‘Witmer Park (Certainty and Risk)’ is an exceptional piece within this show in that it reveals some of Loraine’s documentary process. It is composed of a plexiglass sheet on which he has marked the number and position of each acorn, accompanied by a pile of acorns numbered with a Sharpie exhibited on a custom oak shelf.
In all this work there is an elusive power. The show has the look of great restraint – but the restrained palette and presentation of all of the work is merely a foil to the latent power of all of these artists: the power of what is omitted, the power of the incomplete action, the power of emotional connection and vulnerability.
- Tim Hickman