Friday, October 3, 2008

Manifest Gallery Doubles Down

As an art historian, I am guilty of quickly categorizing each work of art I see into a neat historical framework. Though with each gallery visit, I hope the works exhibited force (not merely invite) me to venture beyond these boundaries. My visit to Manifest Gallery this week did just that. The art of both Petra Kralickova and Kathy A. Moore caught me off guard as they both challenged the classical dichotomies of geometric versus organic, private versus public spaces, and stability versus theatricality.

Immediately upon walking into the red-tinted gallery I was drawn to Inquietude. Kralickova’s three “cages” of black fabric, thread, and beautiful bead work gracefully hang from the ceiling. The black strands of thread of each of these cages meet a perfect circle of black sand on the floor below. While the work is tactile, Kralickova seems to display a resistance to the spontaneous for which Post-Minimalism is known. Instead her work seems more intentional; retaining geometric form and classic analytical lines. The combination of red fabric that drapes the windows of the gallery and the black “cages” along with the need for the viewer to carefully move around these pieces so as not to disturb the sand offers a sense of unease. Though the temptation of their elegance; the sparkle of the sand mirroring the glimmer of the bead work above was almost irresistible to touch. Only my desire to keep from harming these perfect forms allowed me to keep my hands to myself. It is this conflict of being confined outside of Kralickova’s cages that is most intriguing.

Kathy A. Moore’s Still Lifes From My Perspective also focuses on presenting spacial ambiguities in her drawings of her studio. Unlike Kralickova, Moore works with the more classical media of drawing and visual language of line, light, and perspective. Even the still life is a more traditional genre choice. Yet while her linear approach to space seems to contradict the organic forms in Inquietude, looking at Moore’s drawings offers no less stability. In each still life, the artist changes not always the objects, but forces a new and different angle or perspective that imposes movement that is almost dizzying. Her emphasis on light (though perhaps more obvious in her paintings) equals that of Kralickova. This focus on light allows both artists to define spaces; the studio or the gallery as equally dramatic.

A very quick look at the works of these two artists immediately reveals opposing artistic styles: classical drawings of still lifes against a Post-Minimalist installation. Yet by devoting the galleries to two artists and only two works Manifest allows the viewer to recognize and perhaps even wrestle with their similarities.