Kaethe Kauffman’s archival inkjet and mixed media scrolls are comprised of suggestive vignettes, lucid passages, and familiar pairings. However, an elusive narrative emerges that defies that base. The main thread, parts of the body, registers in ways that are both intimate and particular, while the anonymity of the faceless figures gives each work a more symbolist tone. There are patterns here as well that suggest one cause of behavior that develops through repetition. It is also quite possible that Ms. Kauffman is commenting on how we target gesture and color, then detail in our daily observations when we make a judgment or speculation.
I like, in particular, the use of cursive writing paper in “Muscle Movement: Knee, Script Scroll,” where a sequence of the backs of bandaged and banded knees creates a long oval framework that surrounds the repetitive writing samples. By running the letters sideways, and as a vertical, the artist alludes to how Asian characters are written. This inference points to the universality of the elements used, how our minds work, and how we respond to various visual triggers based on past experiences.
The body has trigger points as well, and it seems the further away they are from the way we identify one another (i.e. nondescript backs or toe bottoms as opposed to faces), the more we are in tune with our subconscious to read circumstances or situations.
Sharing the space with Ms. Kauffman’s large paper hangings are the intimately sized monotypes of Brenda Giegerich. The two artists couldn’t be more different with respect to subject matter, despite the fact that both offer works on paper. Ms. Kauffman’s emphasis is the body and spirit while Ms. Giegerich’s subject is nature, specifically, how cloud shapes and patterns can be paired with relatively rough seas. Using various color combinations, forms, and lines Ms. Giegerich is able to allude to any mood or whim she desires.
In some instances, such as “Worlds Apart #4,” the sky and sea can become somewhat abstracted geometrically, like a Milton Avery painting. Other times, the work may look overtly graphic and relatively colorless, as with “Worlds Apart #5.” In any case, Ms. Giegerich, using a most difficult 50/50 compositional format, is able to pull together intriguing pairings of the heavens and earth in ways that are as playful as they are stimulating.
In this particular body of work, I find the simplicity or straightforwardness of “Worlds Apart #10” and “Worlds Apart #11” to be the most potent, as they speak volumes with very few frills. As an installation in toto, I am reminded of Monet’s paintings of the Cathedral in Rouen, where different times of day can be presented through various color variations and intensities. - D. Dominick Lombardi
Mr. Lombardi is an artist with representation at the Kim Foster Gallery in New York, a writer with Public Art and Ecology (Shanghai), Sculpture, and d'ART, and an independent curator.