Thursday, July 27, 2006

I'm finally beginning to get to my half-finished posts...I'll start with Hesse.

Everyone is talking about Eva Hesse, the visual artist who placed her finger on the pulse of minimalism, altering its course profoundly in her brief, but stellar career. With simultaneous shows at The Drawing Center and The Jewish Museum, there is no doubt that Hesse will be influencing artists and writers in the coming years. What's so compelling about her work? The simple shapes, the muted, earthy colours, how she refigures the actual canvas itself? The slight variations in the colour? How these hanging pieces--stuffed with who knows what to make them take on shape--become like well worked glazed surfaces. A sculptural version of Hesse's drawings, an even warmer exploration of minimalism than Rothko, or Agnes Martin. And so wonderful how the canvases reflect on the gallery floor above.

Reptition 19, now on view at The Jewish Museum, looks slighltly different from the photo on the left (lifted from the MOMA site). The sculpture will be on for a while yet, but I tried to take a friend to the Drawing Center last Saturday and they were closed for installation (I was beginning to think of the DC as a permanent home for Hesse.)

The confidence of the line is what struck me the second time through the Drawing Center. Even when the lines themselves appear nothing more than squiggles and spurts there is a sense of purpose, as if laying out a text she lays line, after line, assembling a sense of movement and textures...restrained, or contained, chaos.

This tension continues to fascinate. Why is that so much work, poetry or visual, seems to not hold together? Or not hold together in a satisfying enough way? I keep coming back to Moure's Frame of the Book, and O Cidadan as examples of something that seems translucent in its architecture, sinews pulled beyond any imaginable thinness (for lack of a better word), and yet still strong enough for the reader to tiptoe across, witnessing the endless layers below... In a world where lucid (upbeat, accessible) is a dirty word, this question is even more crucial.

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