Saturday, May 17, 2008

Jennifer Bartlett at Locks

I'm new to the Philly scene but Locks Gallery seems like a venerable, blue chip gallery. Usually not really my cup of tea. They sure have lively shows in an architectuarly significant building though. I like the way the white cubed gallery spaces are carefully shoehorned into what I imagine were the original ballroom and another smaller space. I love climbing the ornate staircase to the upstairs space. Last month we saw a refreshing eye opening show of Lynda Benglis. It's nice to see a historical figure (I hope she would take that the right way), in a small retrospective which sheds light on current practice. Benglis certainly foremothers many current concerns around gender, physicality and sexuality.

The current Bartlett show revisits important work from the seventies which has been laid out of sight a bit. Bartlett does us a great service by revisiting it herself in her mammoth new work "Song" from 2007. It's abstract though less rigorously so than the plate pieces from the seventies . But certainly less figurative than work I remember from the eighties There's the image of the phases of the moon et al. I think it takes her more figurative house and other images back around to a new place. Seeing her plate graphs from the early seventies reminds us of what was happening in the seventies bridging minimalism and the coming figuration, identity, and narrative work that now seems so vital. Ultimately I find her work not very deep but I'm always interested.

Also check out Kate Bright's glittery, wintery landscapes.

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