Capsule Reviews

Our critics survey the local art scene

  Vasco Araújo The most striking quality of Vasco Araújo's video showing in the Project Room at Conduit is its references to two related strains of thought, style and ideological practice--namely classicism and fascism. Running in a 15-minute loop, "Hipolito" unfolds according to the interaction between disparate visual and sound narratives. The video opens with a young boy dressed in a Mocidade Portuguesa (Portuguese Youth) uniform. He plays a pipe while walking along the ledge of a monolithic building. The building is an example of high-fascist architecture, built in a vocabulary of emphatic yet rarefied classicism. Even stronger than the perhaps unwitting allusions to Manet's famous "Fifer" of 1866 are the complex references to classicism both modern and ancient. While viewers become voyeurs of a pas de deux between the boy and a young girl, also wearing a uniform, they hear an excerpt from Euripides' Hippolytus, an ancient Greek tragedy. Outside the project room is another video titled "Duettino," showing on a free-standing monitor. Running in a two-minute loop, "Duettino" shows a man at the center of a verdant field reciting a portion of a text from Mozart's Don Giovanni. With lips and cheeks carefully rouged and wearing a ruffled shirt in antique white, the actor, Araújo himself, plays the parts of Don Giovanni and Zerlina while the surrounding landscape vertiginously rotates at high speed. Araújo juxtaposes sound and movement, time and space, in order to play up the roiling dramatic humors of classical, operatic and political theater. His touch is poignant yet confounding, especially because of the medium of video. Through March 26 in the Project Room at Conduit Gallery, 1626-C Hi Line Drive, 214-939-0064. (Charissa N. Terranova)

Coast to Coast Geographic alliance underscores this exhibition of painting and Conceptualist sculpture at Barry Whistler Gallery. Showing in the front room of the gallery space are the paintings and works on paper by the Texas and Southwest artists Emi Winter and Mark Williams and works on paper by the East Coast artist Adam Raymont. In the adjacent room are several small- to medium-sized sculptures constructed out of translucent tissue paper and balsa wood by the West Coast artist Robert Wilhite. Winter's diamond-shaped canvases in glittery blue, black and white, "Blue Diamond I & II," are a powerful presence in the front room, especially vis-à-vis the surrounding fainter works on paper. Facing her paintings are the shiny polyurethane surfaces of Mark Williams. In the works "Looking Forward" and "Move Closer," Williams has painted glossy orthogonal swatches of orange, brown, mauve and green. Between the colors one sees evidence of paint layered beneath. The contrast between layered under-surfaces and flat, glossy top-surfaces creates a provocative tension. Raymont's drawings on vintage paper are precious but pleasingly not pretty. Hung from ceiling and wall alike in the adjacent room, Wilhite's paper-wood sculptures are inspired by the Seven Wonders of the World. In Wilhite's hands, the Colossus of Rhodes is transformed into a model glider-esque version of Sputnik I. The small chair on the wall, "Throne of Zeus," is a droll interpretation of the Statue of Zeus. Being good ego-centered Dallasites, we might think that the source of Wilhite's "Tower of Babel" cantilevering from the wall is the late Philip Johnson's white ziggurat located downtown in Thanksgiving Square at Ervay and Bryan. The inspiration for this piece, however--and probably Johnson's hardy kitsch-monument as well--is the mythic tower of Babylonian wonder. While the pieces in Coast to Coast are good, they suffer from sterile installation. The staunch separation of sculpture from painting and works on paper does a disservice to the individual pieces. Creative adjacencies, such as the placement of Wilhite's "Throne of Zeus" next to Raymont's "Green Things" or Winter's "Blue Diamond I" next to Wilhite's "Sputnik," would have brought out unforeseen qualities that lie latent within the work. Through March 26 at Barry Whistler Gallery, 2909 Canton St., 214-939-0242. (C.T.)

Erwin Redl Erwin Redl is an artist best known for working in the medium of light. In 2002 he wrapped the Whitney Museum in New York in red and blue drapes of light-emitting diodes, or LED. The work showing at Conduit that most closely corresponds to this is the series of small pencil and ink drawings in red and dark blue on the wall facing the entryway. More than flickering lights hung on a building in three dimensions, however, these drawings bring to mind the "international picture language" of 1936 designed by Otto Neurath, an Austrian like Redl, or the round-headed stick-bodies on skis and luges that the German Otl Aicher designed for the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. On neighboring walls are eight almost monochromatic drawings with circles and lines at the center of each. They are larger and, with cracked and scratched surfaces, far more expressionistic than the colored drawings. Redl explains that, in these drawings, he is working through the architectural tactics that the hanging of lights involves without having to perform the full-fledged installation. In these terms, Redl has cleverly reinvented the architectural rendering as something far more abstract, symbolic and, indeed, conceptual in a new way. The best part of this showing of Redl's work is what is to follow. In December of this year, Conduit will host a large LED installation by Redl. Through March 26 at Conduit Gallery, 1626-C Hi Line Drive, 214-939-0064. (C.T.)

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