criticismExhibitions
Tuesday, January 1st, 2002

Nina Bovasso, David Dupuis, Andrew Masullo


Derek Eller
526-30 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001
212 206 6411

January 5 – February 2, 2002

A fat graphite figure slops out of a multi-colored disc in David Dupuis’s “Love Connection” at Derek Eller Gallery, licking the edge of the twin disc on the opposite panel of the diptych; the color wheel has got its tongue. Or phallus, which suggests that if color could talk, it would talk about sex. Language often appears to be rising (or falling) out of the surfaces in this remarkable group show, rising and receding, changing form, just eluding one’s grasp, as it were. Biomorphic shapes drift over colored-pencil wave-patterns in two other compositions by Dupuis. Abstract shapes within thought or dialogue balloons of cartoon illustration imply that something is being expressed under the pleasant glow of amorphous suns hovering nearby. The allusions to thought and talk tease us out of the merely decorative without resolving into reference or abstraction. The general effect is a trippy isolation, the odd creatures of another world viewed through sealed glass. Even in those works in which the figures are somewhat more accessible there is a sense of pre-verbal yearning, of significance pushing up from the surface.

In Nina Bavasso’s “Suzanne’s Burial Mound,” [see cover] flower shapes and quilt patterns in pinks and lavenders weave through the geometric lines. The composition, breast-like, mound-like, pillow-like, forms into something at once comforting and restless, improvising on feminine motifs while allowing the momentum of repetitive pattern to inscribe the surface with an intensity of gesture. Bavasso’s elaboration of simple, freely drawn shapes has been compared to doodling, but, as is the case with Dupuis’s work, the building up of irregular forms into an off-balance mass suggests something more complicated and ambitious than that. Her images get at a merging of biology and signifying system, of vital energy and consciousness, as if the unwieldy cell structures she draws were tottering into nostalgia or whimsy.

Andrew Masullo’s three-dimensional paintings introduce a brightly colored and palpable thingness to all this play on signifying and not signifying. He builds and shapes with paint, raising three-dimensional shapes off flat, painted grids or monochrome surfaces. Again, there are biomorphic shapes, and hints at codes and signs, as well as cheerful allusions to Pop, Minimalism and Modernist abstraction. It is difficult to say what this adds up to, or if adding up to a particular point is at issue. Masullo titles his works according to their place in his oeuvre, and by now the four digit stretch of each title has its own poignancy. In this near hermetic persistence Massullo connects, paradoxically, with Dupuis and Bovasso. That Derek Eller should bring together such particular artists, and allow their works to speak among each other without an imposed rubric, is a credit to his eye and to his critical acumen.


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