Birds of a Feather

lori_fieldIf you love to look at intricate, well-designed art work, there are three artists showing in Chelsea now that have very special qualities.

The two-person show at Kinz, Tillou + Feigen is a must see. Megan Greene's intensely detailed fabric and floral-based abstractions made with white pencil and gouache on black paper are stunning, edgy, and beautiful. The work is outlaw, along the line of a Hells Angels aesthetic, yet refined with the finesse one likes to see in fine pencil work.

Also at Kinz, Tillou + Feigen are the mixed media works of Lori Field, who offers wondrous drawn and painted collages (left) under an encaustic skin. The results are challenging and beautiful, while her iconography suggests fantasy, fetish, and fairy tales often revealing a dark side. You can even say her works have a subtle reference to a disturbed place, yet as a whole they are so fantastical and colorful that they are immediately magnetic. Both Greene and Field are first rate. Their work transfixes the viewer on the strength and skills of passionate souls that search for new aesthetics that end up being otherworldly.

Over at Max Lang, you have the third artist of the type. Her name is Hye Rim Lee, and the exhibition is Crystal City. The city, which is comprised of numerous shiny glass dildos, acts as a billowing backdrop for a playful dragon. The dragon, who sometimes fondles a Barbie-esque beauty, is far less frightening that your average beast. Here, he's a relatively manageable sexual being, which reminds me of another Korean artist, Sobin Park, who uses similar iconography to make her point about the passions of sex. However, Lee is less graphic when it comes to the actual intercourse, relying far more on potent innuendo to drive the viewer's thoughts, with dazzling digital effects that optimize perspective, texture, and reflection. These are some of the best digital prints I've seen in a very long time, while her lone animation runs like a futuristic fantasy combining sexual desire with cartoony fun. Wonderful.

In Midtown Manhattan, there is a third exhibition that links conceptual leanings to that same intense emphasis on craft. Claire Lieberman's installation at the Lab Gallery for Installation and Performance Art turns 70 gallons of ruby red Jello into a big city fantasy. Working with small to large jello molds, the artist has converted the floor of the gallery, which is visible through two walls of glass that border the south and west side of the space, into a field of fruit-flavored flowers. It's like a mirage, a throw-back reference to an era of stay-at-home homemakers who aimed to please. But this vision is filtered through an altered state of mind -- flowers / peace / hallucinations -- as we tip-toe through a time warp.

Is it a store, a statement, or a sanctuary? Very often, the Lab Gallery challenges viewers to re-evaluate their surroundings, catching passers-by through their peripheral vision as they move quickly by. They expect to see a shoe store, a jeweler, a druggist, or some type of chain store on a midtown street corner. What it looks like is a high-end, over-the-edge, trendy desert store that extols, through one very extreme application, the endless possibilities of the rubbering desert. And that makes it sexy, fleshy in a way. It holds, then melts, slowly evaporating. Good things can't last forever -- and playful, peaceful, even proactive serenity is sorely needed.

The two videos that play on one wall reflect off of the slick skin of the jello-molded poppies, some with black marble middles. The videos show the same view we see on the floor, a repeat of the "reality" -- a projection of the concept back on itself. It makes it all more dimensional. Thick and rich, tactile and racy. A soft sell with a hard edge, or a hard sell with a forgiving edge. - D. Dominick Lombardi

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D. Dominick Lombardi is an artist with representation in Kasia Kay Art Projects and in Chicago, Van Brunt Gallery in Beacon, NY, and ADA gallery in Richmond, VA; a writer with Sculpture, Sculpture Review, DART, and NYARTS; and an independent curator.

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