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Grace and Beauty


Hi, it's Melissa. I dropped by bl's studio the other day to see the "Elastics" series he and John did. The six faces composed of rubber bands look even better framed and on the wall. On another wall, he had this piece, which he calls "Grace and Beauty". As you approach it, you see translucent plastic faces on two blocks of color, pink and green. The faces are glued on foam, and mounted on board. Nothing fancy.. no adornment.. Why "Grace and Beauty?" Is that supposed to be "Grace" on the left? How is the piece beautiful?

Whatever meaning the piece has or is intended to have is somehow in the wordplay of the title, as is common particularly in conceptual and minimal art. The artist's way to get the viewer to look more closely and think harder, I suppose. So bl wasn't too communicative about this, preferring to challenge me to tell my own story of the piece. It helps that I know some of his earlier work, and the context in which this piece appears.

Moving to the side of the piece, I was surprised to see that the two heads are identical, their colors provided entirely by the foam. So that's one trick.. Grace and Beauty are the same, but different? Why pink and green? I know that bl has been playing with color palettes just to see different effects, but why pick these two. Well, the pink one is fleshy-looking and the green one alien, accentuating the contrast between them. And the two colors are also vaguely unsettling and uncomfortable juxtaposed. There is no movement, but they move.

Beauty has been stripped down, only a ghostly mask remains suggesting a human presence. Perhaps the viewer is invited to "flesh out" beauty for him or herself.

The second use of the same materials, Untitled, shows one mask with color-divided hemispheres, suggesting duality, as in male and female. It will be interesting to see where, if anywhere, he develops these ideas.

cheers, M.

#artspeakes #artnotes

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