Strange Loops and Matinee/Matiné PDF Print E-mail

Strange Loops gathers a group of artists, the majority from the Boston area, whose practice explores abstraction and the idea of looping. Loops are structures with no beginning or end, often shaking our perception. The exhibit includes drawings, sculptures, paintings, and video that play with the notion of an endless relation between abstraction and figuration, language and image, finite and infinite structures.

Fred Muram’s video is a loop whose action goes faster than the artist’s tongue. In his video My Right Your Left (2007), the artist addresses the logic of the loop by performing a simple feat with his hands. Against a white background, one sees two hands alternatively opening and closing their fists. On the top of the right hand, reads “My Right” while “My Left” has been written on the other. When the fist of his right hand opens we read “Your left”, and “Your Right” on the left palm. The audio of the video shows the difficulties of this apparently easy task: the artist attempts to announce out loud the relation between his position and the viewer’s but in less than a minute we hear his voice stuttering – confused by the reversed logic that rules his action. Language falls behind when following this choreography, a performance that is rapidly understood by our mind and eyes but difficult to articulate in language.

Fred Muram, Still from My Right Your Left (2007). Courtesy of the artist and LaMontagne Gallery, Boston.

Peter Hoss and Matthew Rich’s paintings present different approaches to abstraction and volume. Hoss involves semi-abstract objects present in our daily life while Rich’s participatory sculptures invite the audience to perform their own loop. Hoss’s paintings might take the shape of a drawing, a sculpture, or even a trashcan but they are always addressing moments of pure visuality. All the information we need to look at these works comes from the objects rendered before our eyes. Forms On Structure (2008)sits on a wood structure shaped as a trapezoid but the geometrical reference is not apparent at first, rather one focuses on the painterly surface with prominent lines in black against a yellow and white background. Pieces of paper have been incorporated to the surface subtly adding texture to the plane. Collage is a method often used by Hoss not necessarily to bring disparate images together but to construct a cohesive visual event that resonates in many physical layers.Hoss’s explorations on abstraction and volume become even more apparent in small format works such as Abstraction (2009), or 3D Landscapes (2009), where rigorous pictorial compositions are made in trashcans or car4dboard boxes with discarded material.

Peter Hoss, Forms on Structure, 2007-8

Although Rich uses conventional and recognizable shapes, they are always slightly off: straight lines are seldom part of his works, they are either too fat or too slim, built from an unusual angle or crooked. Using this bland geometry, Rich creates abstract compositions imbued with a sense of precariousness and sobriety. These paper cut-outs also sit in instability: they have an ambiguous relationship with volume that makes them look flat or sculptural, they quietly interact with the architecture – some of them, like Octagonal engulf a portion of the wall – disarming the certainties of geometry and giving way to a place where logic and intuition seem to be the same thing. In this exhibit, Rich is also presenting Untitled pocket sculptures loops made out of duct tape that are an invitation to the viewer to play with them while visiting the exhibition. The work, once again, is realized by the viewer.

Matthew Rich, Fold and Flip, 2009

Karen Schiff, Tatyana Gubash and Eve Essex’s drawings and installations address the loop between silence, language and image in works that include names, curses, and excessive ornamentation. Through simple and obsessive gestures, Schiff’s Laid Lines drawings attempt to bring the interior of a piece of paper to the surface. Rather than a metaphysical approach to such an endeavor, Schiff follows physical patterns inherent to the paper. The artist patiently marks the structural lines of the mold used to make the paper, or drafts white lines in the places where the light comes through, or leaves black marks standing where the paper thickens and the light can not pass. Sometimes all these marks are combined, the result resembling a musical score. Schiff’s drawings, abstract in appearance, are strictly attached to the physical conditions of the paper she is using. These “invisible” drawings portray no distinction between the artwork and the place where it is inscribed, suggesting a curious loop running in between the support and what is rendered visible on its surface.

Laid Lines, 2009

Equally obsessive gestures are found in Gubash’s work. Waves and scribbles freely occupy the space of her drawings, detached from any meaning. Written language is the point of departure: names, curses, even scribbles have been decorated until they almost disappear in the ornament. Gubash presents a series of drawings inspired on writing as a graphic sign but also an obsessive, dark babble that needs no more clear articulation.

Tatyana Gubash, Golden Waves (detail), 2009

Essex works in different array of media and disciplines, including performance (the Re-enactment of Cornelius Cardew’s Scratch orchestra), video, sculpture and installation. A Fold, reflected is a constructed “memory” where the artist rebuilds as accurate as possible two objects from her childhood: a bed table and a drawing of her name. The drawing spells the name of the artist, Evelynne, embellished with girly ornaments and decorations making it difficult to read at a first glance. The interior of the bed table is a mirrored box. Essex places the drawing inside the table to create a situation where the reflection of her own name bounces infinitely between image and language, memory and fact, experience and reconstruction, one mirror and another. The video Untitled (after Joseph Albers) can be viewed from the outside of the gallery. Essex appropriates a well-known work by the American abstract painter to create a looped animation. The camera navigates through the famous painting that changes colors while the viewer’s eye keeps immersing into this endless set of frames.

Eve Essex, Untitled (after Joseph Albers), 2008

John Schulz and Alicia Mihai Gazcue work with pre-existing images recombining meanings and challenging stable significations. Schulz’s A Brick, Not a Wall comprises fifteen drawings made of juxtaposions and reshufflings of pre-existing images. Playfully constructed, each drawing of this series has two pictures – sometimes even the same image flipped or inverted – and each of them is titled and identified with a letter. Schulz uses different systems of organization like the alphabet, the I Ching (a millenary book of divination), chance, etc. to reassign new meanings to the images. A Brick Not a Wall offers disperse elements with the potential to build a bigger structure but instead, remains as fragments of images and possible meanings. They are bricks, after all.

John Schulz, A Brick, not a Wall no.12: (t) (darkening of the light), 2008

Mihai Gazcue explores the connection between banal images and their inherent political content. Masterfully copying pre-existing pictures, Mihai Gazcue creates an out of focus effect bringing a sense of unrealness to the work. The objects are familiar and unfamiliar at once; the image stares back and the viewer has to reposition to look again. The sources of most of the pictures are textbooks or manuals to impart a doctrine. Mihai Gazcue dismantles their didactic message and opens them up to a more poetic, less literal set of references and associations.

Alicia Mihai Gazcue, Negocierile, 2009

In this exhibition, we have also included her collaborations with other artists. Double Negation, with Ana Tiscornia, depicts the clashing of two realities, while Black Drip, with Liliana Porter, humorously comments on the limits of fiction. In more than one way, Mihai Gazcue’s work is a subtle discussion on identity.

Concurrently with Strange Loops, we are presenting Mattinee/Matiné at the Exit Room. This exhibition is named after Liliana Porter’s latest video, which receives its Boston premiere at the BCA Mills Gallery. Kitschy figurines star in a series of vignettes that wittily challenges the limits of fiction and representation. Porter once compared the experience of looking at her work to watching a movie in a theater with the lights on. The exhibit also features a suite of drawings, Brief Events (2008), by this internationally recognized Argentinean artist based in New York.

Liliana Porter, Still from Matinee/Matiné (2009)

Liliana Porter, Still from Matinee/Matiné (2009)



National Endowment for the Arts

Institutional supporters

Massachusetts Cultural Council


Liberty Mutual Foundation

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