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Jane South

Spencer Brownstone Gallery (39 Wooster)
39 Wooster Street, 212-334-3455
September 12 - October 28, 2006
Reception: Friday, September 15, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Jane South’s newest exhibition is comprised of a series of new constructions in her trademark hand-cut, folded and painted paper.

These new works continue a process of condensing and concentrating the fragmentary calligraphic flourishes of South’s earlier work, which now appear to have been subjected to some dark gravitational force, drawn into a tumult of closely packed cages, cantilevered platforms, drums, and sharply serrated wheels.

If the artist’s former paper works appeared to unfold across the wall in a left-to-right ‘narrative’, the silhouettes of these new works are dramatically sculptural in comparison, their graphic strength creating a direct and immediate impact. As a result, the pieces take on the character of objects, their multitudinous interior elements seeming to sprout out of the larger whole. This impression is underlined by the largely monochromatic coloration in any one piece, which has the effect of further unifying the work’s component fragments. Industrial colors predominate, dark-red leads and battleship grays that recall the D.U.M.B.O area of Brooklyn where the artist lives and works.

Any sense of purposive function to these works’ mechanical forms is ultimately duplicitous, however. The fragility and elegantly handcrafted nature of their construction sets up a mischievous relationship with the proto-industrial sculptural elements: there is barely a straight line; every ‘saw-toothed blade’ is cut by hand; and trompe l’oeil shading is achieved with painted comic book-like crosshatching. For every gantry-like projection that suggests the ability to bear load and enable function, there is a skewed box or kidney-shaped cage suspended like a bizarre and useless appendage.

The artist’s modus operandi remains that of ambiguity, possibility and loss: perhaps a true reflection of fast transforming neighborhoods like the one in which she lives, where one can encounter, alongside one another, the crumbling remnants of the area’s industrial past; the false facades of the developer’s gentrification efforts; scenes of dereliction; and the ‘exploded view’ of the architect’s model.
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