Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Writ Crit for Sophie Lipman

Sophie Lipman displayed a body of her work for critique on February second. Her pieces included four monotypes of round-cornered, simplified box-like forms referencing televisions in yellow, magenta and teal, with black outlines. She also hung her previously critiqued piece featuring her first use of the TV-shape sitting across from a meticulously rendered ballpoint-collagraph of a figure appropriated from imagery by Goya. The figure seems to be in such a state of deterioration that it pools where it sits before the faded blue TV.

In another piece, a monotype TV in neutral magenta sits on a small monotype table, the silhouette of the pair cut out along the outlines. On this piece, a barely visible silkscreen of a rat and a donut, presumably printed in transparent base, are printed to suggest that the rat and donut are coming out of the TV.

A last monotype TV printed in slightly warm, bright yellow also rests on a monotype table and is cut out. McDonald's Ms and graphically drawn, over-scale mosquitos are printed in trans base on organic, cloud-like shapes and are installed with the yellow TV and seem to be floating away from its screen. In addition to the printed and installed pieces, print-outs of bacteria are tacked to the wall as insight into Sophie's source material. Floating donuts and glowing McDonald's Ms are also displayed in print-outs, under the heading "projection ideas," and are clearly sketches for future projects.

One of the first things I notice about Sophie’s work is its consistent use of transparency. The sketchy marks that allow paper to show through on Sophie’s TV monotypes, the transparent silkscreens of the rats, the projection of light onto a physical piece, and even the layered watercolors in her sketches make use of transparency. I wonder if this urge to employ translucent layers was what compelled her to create her earliest pieces, which became a bit cluttered in certain instances. Sophie’s work since then has been far more exacting and exclusive about what to layer with what, which makes that work far more successful. She collages and layers the meanings of the content she portrays as thoroughly as she layers the forms, so careful selection of the symbolic forms she uses helps to keep Sophie’s work focused.

I remember Sophie once making a comment that people’s tendency to find humor in her work was not the reaction you were looking for. I can empathize with that sentiment, since I have gotten similar unwanted reactions in the past. However, I think ironic humor could strengthen her work. For one, I think a certain degree of humor is an inevitable response to an unexpected use of a highly familiar cultural icon, like TV or the McDonalds’ M. Some people who respond to Sophie’s appropriation with humor may not be provoked to question the symbols’ presence in their lives. But I think that for many, humor could ease the audience’s assimilation of the concept she is presenting. They might not take it seriously at first, but humorous ideas tend to be remembered, and reevaluation of them as they recur in a person’s mind could help that person spot the grains of truth.

I would suggest that she look up anti-consumerist and anti-globalization art, but unfortunately I have no specific references for her.

[many, many apologies for the lateness of this post]

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