Drawing Redefined

deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum • Lincoln, MA • decordova.org • Through March 20, 2016

By: Zachary Jason

Esther Kläs, BA/JJ-J, 2013 , oil-based ink and colored pencil on paper, 79½ × 177″ (three panels) and Esther Kläs, BA/SUN, 2013, colored pencil on paper, 81¼ × 59″. Courtesy of the artist and Peter Blum Gallery, New York. Photo: Clements Photography and Design, Boston.

Doodles Gone Berserk would make a crude but apt alternate title to this transfixing collection of five artists who make a disciplined practice of otherworldly drawing. New York-based Roni Horn sets the tone with her 7¼ x 8½-foot Then 2,
a constellation of blue pigment semi-circles fragmented by dozens of white squares on paper that arrests the viewer from 60 feet away.

Close inspection reveals small words scribbled in pencil repeated between the lines and squares—zoom-zoom, room-room, goon-goon, voom-voom. The artist is exposing an intricate order behind the apparent bedlam.

Logic beneath disarray runs throughout Drawing Redefined. German Jorinde Voigt’s four large-scale works (including Passion and Plaisir and The Incorporation of Sexuality) of spiky orbs and ominous dust clouds of ink, gold leaf, and pastel on paper resemble chaotic, metallic universes, until you read their handwritten legends, which explain each object’s trajectory and relation to the others. Facing opposite walls, fellow German Esther Kläs’s BA/// and BA/JJ-J are caked in layered, curvy swaths of icy, sky, and midnight blue and appear to be funhouse mirrors of each other. Yet the former was created with colored pencil on monotype, while BA/JJ-J was done in oil paint applied with a stiff loofah. Kläs’s Ferema (5), two granite slabs rendered to resemble ruins, is also on display as part of the deCordova’s grandiose Architectural Allusions sculpture park exhibition, which runs through May 1.

Nearly a dozen sculptures scattered throughout the two exhibition rooms echo the drawings that line the walls and add whimsy and humor. Richard Tuttle’s One resembles a lavender-paint-splotched tepee fit for an infant, erected before a foamcore cheese grater fit for a giant. Joëlle Tuerlinck’s Figure d’angle blanc evokes a broken white protractor sitting atop a giant piece of ripped black graph paper. Most beguiling of all is Voigt’s Sequence of Solidification, nine ridged and curved oxidized green strands created by tossing molten bronze in cold vats of water. Are they strings of seaweed that washed ashore mysteriously aligned, Alien DNA sequences laid out for genetic engineering, or a family of snakes frozen mid-slither? You’ll keep guessing days after your visit.

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