We’ve officially gone urban. As of last year, more people in the world lived in urban environments than not, according to the United Nations. So it comes as no surprise that the artists in Poised, now on view at Solomon Projects, have channeled our collective confrontation with all things architectural in surprising and satisfying ways.
Poised is curated with a minimalist's hand, and wisely avoids the pitfall of trying to do too much. Four artists and four works, one from each artist, comprise Poised. Because each painting or sculpture is given ample breathing room, together they attain an air of monumental dignity, even without being especially monumental in scale.
Atlantan Scott Ingram’s “Gesture” turns the framework of a built environment in overdrive inside out with three I-beams juxtaposed at eccentric angles and leaned against the wall. Although the black lacquered I-beams resemble the typical steel variety, a visual pun is at work as they're actually made of wood. In art parlance, a “gesture” is a mark made intuitively, before thought and before intention. Ingram’s “Gesture” might be the shrugging afterthought of an abandoned construction site, or the accidental sculpture of a city in progress.
Across the gallery, Odili Donald Odita’s large acrylic painting “Panoramic” suppresses any hint of gesture in exchange for pure geometric abstraction. Bands of color crosscut in complex patterns with mathematical precision against a fractured picture plane. “Panoramic” evokes a vast and open space. But rather than filtering his vision through the lens of nature, it seems to be filtered through glass, steel, and the materials of modern construction. In fact, at other galleries such as Wertz Contemporary, Odita has previously painted similar works directly on interior walls, drawing attention to space and the idiosyncratic ways we move through it.
Jeff Sonhouse’s mixed-media painting “Illumination” presents a smartly dressed black man, hands clasped, surrounded by the trappings of so many urban settings: a storefront church, liquor display, lotto sign, and plenty of neon. The glowering face of a black panther emerges from the man’s neck like a willful appendage. Rounding out the group, Ridley Howard’s “Day Painting,” aspires to monumental statuary, elevating a larger-than-life portrait to the status of classical sculpture.
Despite great diversity in subject matter and execution, the artists share a pronounced sense of our urban moment. That the four can be seen in such close proximity is a rare glimpse into rare talent.
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