Sleight of Hand is an exhibition of selected works by gallery artists Peter Davis, Laura Larson, and Cindy Workman. Before gaining its association with magic tricks, the word “sleight”, derived from Old Norse and used as early as the 14th Century, was intended to describe dexterity or cleverness. The three artists in this show use legerdemain to produce images that challenge the viewer to question their processes and visual content. The hand is often quicker than the eye, forcing what is visually perceived to be at once believed before it is intrinsically understood.
Laura Larson’s photographs feature luminous apparitions in the deteriorating spaces of an abandoned psychiatric institution. The phantoms are not digital effects — they were created using simple staging, long exposures and a 4×5 view camera. Larson interrupted the passage of light in such a way that the film captured an image that could never be seen with the naked eye. She has taken photographs that document facts masquerading as fictions, and in so doing questions whether to believe in or to doubt the objectivity of photography.
Peter Davis uses a pliable blade to remove a swath of high gloss house paint that has been liberally applied over a slick acrylic surface baked onto a panel of either aluminum or MDF board. A single action, which may have been erased and re-enacted several times until a desired result has been achieved, records the performative gesture as a representation that is often perceived as resulting from a photographic process. His reductive method of painting allows him to delicately carve out glossy images that appear referential but exist as autonomous, elusive works.
Cindy Workman is the only one of these three artists who uses digital artifice in the realization of her work. Selecting from an infinite array of image source material, she has manipulated a sampling of pornography, comics and coloring books to explore themes of innocence and experience, childhood and adulthood, inhibition and titillation. Her mirages are realized as polished laminated and framed inkjet prints, providing tidy hiding places in which intrusive emotional release is camouflaged under the cloak of formal restraint.
This exhibition features recent works by three of the youngest artists associated with the gallery. Some works have been included in their previous solo exhibitions but the juxtaposition of image, process and content in this curatorial context establishes a different – and interesting – dialogue among their very individual bodies of work.
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