Daniel Reich Gallery is pleased to present a show of new work by Amy Gartrell. Known for her sculptures, ceramics, paintings and fine ink drawings, Gartrell’s work draws upon pop cultural sources such as rotary telephones and commercial eighties stylistic gesture such as floating scribbles and their suggestion of space. Additionally of interest is the way that popular vocabulary is reflected in high art forms – a connection only apparent once an age has passed.
Her new show uses playful geometry making relevant the wild pop formations of Elizabeth Murray but also Joan Miro. Precisely executed, Gartrell’s new works are of singular appearance and humor expressing optimistic zeal and suggesting a the experiential claustrophobia of the not always benign home. For instance think David Lynch. While her wall-mounted ceramics have the three-dimensional integrity of reliefs, their nature as glossy objects complicates their flatness.
Gartrell’s show is a democratic expression – an exuberant interpolation of Ettore Sottsass and the borderless application of his practice ranging from architecture to furniture. In this sense, Gartrell’s artworks are for use and vivid wall abstractions can add energy to any home. In a sense the age-old question as to how to live in a perpetually changing world and as to what environment is restful for the contemporary soul. Her imagery of style and of telephones in particular capture the aspirational potentiality of contemporary communicative contraptions and a desire to belong hinting at a feeling of loneliness. And there is a bit of Matisse in the pleasure quotient.
Also referenced are the loose fitting outfits featured in Esprit ads from the period of Sottsass, libratory images which presented the presumably modern single women (a generation after feminism) in free and fun outfits that did not cater to male desire.
Graphic still life collages abound and vases placed on box like pedestals evoke both Memphis ziggurats and Judd’s integration of familiar household and industrial forms into esoteric language.
Altogether, the exhibit is terribly fresh in disposition. While having a relationship to other contemporary work on formalism, its appearance and interpolation of source material is entirely unique swinging between super high style and low culture. For instance we might see the glossy surfaces of Sottsass in relation to John McCracken here. Gartrell’s new show represents an interpolation of this lineage.