Monday, August 29, 2011

"Urbanism" at PAFA

Urbanism: Reimagining the Lived Environment
July 2- September 4, 2011, Fisher Brooks Gallery
Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building,
Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts
118-128 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA

    “Urbanism”, at the Fisher Brooks Gallery through September 4, 2011, speaks to social priorities and cultural tendencies in the postmodern age. The genius of the exhibition is in the cumulative dynamism of the four iconic artist/teams. Brilliantly curated by Julien Robson, the themes are exquisitely relevant and intellectually engaging. The work is stylistically diverse, with broad emotional and aesthetic range.

Arden Bendler Brown

   Arden Bendler Browning’s paintings are sweepingly gestural. The artist tactilly encompasses a distinctly  contemporary urban experience via semi abstract, expressionist landscapes. Immersed in the composition and color and energy of these highly emotive, visually compelling environments, the viewer is transported by the energy of the city.

     Amy Walsh’s minutely detailed architectonic sculptural installation incorporates deception, discovery and surprise. A pathway through coarsely veneered walls of cardboard and detritus leads to peepholes through which four minute, personalized, layered, private spaces are revealed. Each is its own painstakingly constructed, miniature model urban environment, simultaneously literal, referential and surreal.

Amy Walsh's Installation
         The Dufala Brothers play with the aesthetics of urban “bling”, creating compelling, repurposed metaphor. One example is the upholstered cavity of a giant green dumpster; “Twenty Yard Dumpster Coffin”  is a luxury-limo, padded lounge, “contained” in an impenetrable, steel industrial shell.

             Ben Peterson’s elaborately imagined cartoons carefully illustrate managed chaos. Disintegrating environments are cheerfully propped with scaffold. Elements of whimsy and leisure are interjected amongst cantilevered decay. Buckled turf, reinforced to support multiple layers of tilted structure, shelters intricate sub-terranean cities. Peterson addresses human reaction to external forces, incorporating themes of evolution, decay, denial, and persistence.

           This exhibition invites the viewer to consider scale, intimacy, and materialism in  the context of the constructed environment, addressing social context, dynamic reinvention, and the sustainability of a material obsessed culture.

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