Opening Reception: Friday, May 18 (7-10pm)
Present Co. ends the season with On Human Limits, an exhibition featuring the work of Sarah Bednarek, James Bouché, Deric Carner and Peter Rostovsky.
Pure abstract forms and utopian visions are suggested as inseparable from human aberration, cultural intolerance, and dystopian assertions. The works in different ways offer images and forms that seem physically altered—for better or worse—by the friction of these opposing forces.
Sarah Bednarek starts with basic elements of geometry to create elaborate mathematically calculated constructions. Yet despite the artist’s deep longing for a perfect, unequivocal form, she embraces the inevitable transgression from the pure. Polyhedral shapes grow noses or legs that spread wide open. Materials on closer inspection show paint strokes, hand production and the artifice of veneer that resembles household furniture. In one way, Bednarek’s forms reflect how archetypal geometry operates as a way to understand and measure the world. However, as her works are articulated by hand with slips into illogical choices and confrontations with inevitable material imperfection, she also shows how we shape the world around us in a way that shifts and deviates from the impossible conceptual ideal.
Bouché’s recent work explores the lines between social fictions and realities, drawing from childhood experiences within a deaf branch of the LDS church. For Bouché, the connection between the deaf community and the members of the church was, and still is, complicated; simultaneously learning a beautiful visual language of those who differ and still absorbing the church’s messages of intolerance. The illustrations that Bouche has inscribed on mirrors are adapted from a personal copy of the 1980’s edition of The Dictionary of Sign Language Terms for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a book for lesson planning and proselytizing.
Bodies are suggested in the works of Deric Carner as sites of trauma, pleasure and identity. The fleshy hand-rendered forms draw into question our technological, sexual, and social relationship with material culture. Forms alluding to fetishism, trauma and rebuilding suggest the body as a work-in-progress. Between abstraction and figuration, rudimentary abstract shapes begin to appear as torsos and limbs, a suggestion seemingly—even physically—fixed with bondage-like ropes and ties. There is a sense that the work could easily slip back to abstraction were it not constrained and supported. The mutating forms of bodies are held tight as something vital to negotiate and value in opposition to a perfect norm.
Peter Rostovsky’s Minor Utopia/Major Dystopia uses a comic book vernacular that harkens back to the work of Moebius and other classic illustrators of the 1970s and 80s. Each work renders a landscape that is alternatively lush and inhospitable, and acts as a fragment of a narrative leaving the entire story arc elusive. The drawings—here spanning both analog and digital forms— speak to the frail boundary that always separates eschatological visions of the end and those of a new beginning. Each acts as depiction of utopian transcendence or apocalyptic ruin. For Rostovsky, a writer as well as an artist, these recent works mark a return to his first love: comics, and his sustained interest in the conventions of sequential art as they increasingly converge with his painting practice.