By Bridget Gleeson
Compared to solo exhibitions, group shows can seem unfocused—the artists arbitrarily arranged, their works adhering, however loosely, to a central theme. Not so with “Dynamic Pictorial Models,” at 101/Exhibit in Los Angeles. The show, featuring pieces by four artists, was specifically and intentionally planned down to the last detail.
The cohort of artists—Lydia Dona, Fabian Marcaccio, Franklin Evans, and Pedro Barbeito—all live and work in New York, where each is well-established. In the past two years, the foursome regularly convened for artistic discussions that ultimately shaped the direction and focus of their current exhibition.
Rather than thinking of “Dynamic Pictorial Models” as a group show, consider it a collaborative experiment. The four artists didn’t just contribute individual works—one to three per artist—they chose their co-exhibitors, the venue, and the style of installation, even who would write accompanying materials for the exhibition. The writer of choice was Raphael Rubinstein, a poet and art critic who’s also based in New York. His essay, “New Models, Strange Tools,” which details his personal experience visiting the studio of each artist, helps to shed light on the creative forces driving the exhibition.
Among his observations, Rubinstein writes of how Dona’s canvases seem to “glow and pulsate”—as in The Electrical Sagas of Boroughs (2015)—while Marcaccio’s paintings, like Scientologists (2016), are “materially unruly.” Evans, too, breaks conventional rules with his interpretations of Matisse through a homoerotic lens. As Rubinstein says, “Evans, for all his evident love of art history, does not respect the authority of the masterpiece.” In Barbeito’s works, like the installation Collision Chamber RT (2015–16), Rubinstein sees a similar recasting of objects in space: “there is a great deal of removing things from their original contexts,” he writes, “especially from the realm of science.”
Many of these works involve re-seeing familiar images and defying conventions while challenging the eye and the viewer’s expectations. For each piece, context is key. In fact, context is at the core of the exhibition’s very existence. This is the rare show that revolves perfectly around its participants, who, together, built the show from scratch. The context is their own.
Dynamic Pictorial Models” is on view at 101/Exhibit, Los Angeles, Mar. 12–May 7, 2016.