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Dawn Clements
at Pierogi 2000

Oval (detail)

Kitchen and Bathroom

View from Bed

Installation view of drawings by Dawn Clements at Pierogi 2000
Clutter and Clarity
by William Powhida

Dawn Clements and Bogdan Perzyski, Feb. 7-Mar. 10, 2003, at Pierogi 2000, 177 N. 9th Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11211

If you enjoy drawing, walk over to Pierogi in New York's Williamsburg neighborhood and check out the work of Dawn Clements. For her first New York solo show, Clements has filled the gallery with intricate drawings in ballpoint pen, densely populated with images of everything from Hollywood starlets to her own dirty dishes.

Two standouts are the pair of large drawings -- Oval (1995-2000) and Kitchen and Bathroom (2003) -- that make a claim towards sculpture as well. Oval is a myriad of ballpoint pen drawings on a warped, weathered, folded paper disc, whose edges bow in and out like an aged sculpture. Though it can be appreciated simply as an object, the sheer volume of drawing demands more intimacy.

The drawings in Oval come from memory, imagination, observation of life or observation of television, an array of sources that says something amusing about art. The work's narrative fragments, filled with an extensive cast of characters, are of epic proportions. No wonder it took five years to complete.

In distinct contrast to the wild display that is Oval, the drawing Kitchen and Bathroom is a demonstration of rigorous observation. An amazingly detailed panorama of her apartment, the drawing borders on the obsessive. Every move is an important choice; nothing is simply invented or "filling in." Kitchen and Bathroom almost looks like a woodcut with its dark clean lines.

A third drawing, titled View from Bed (2003), has areas of fine detail done in ballpoint. On the left is a carefully finished rendering of a plant and a patterned patch of couch, while on the right is a section outside the window that is simply indicated. Clements knows when to stop, an important trait for a draftsman.

Clements has a wall of smaller works, which require a map to navigate the titles. The montage-like installation is episodic in contrast with the totalizing magnitude of the larger works, but it isn't overshadowed. The drawings have a narrative thread running through them, bits of text, snippets of dialogue, dresses, women, bodices, faceless hairdos and a multitude of daydream doodles. They create another kind of recollection of the world, in black and white with flashes of color here and there.

In Pierogi's second gallery is Bogdan Perzyski's video installation, titled Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, a simple scene of a dinner table that seems to change and mutate with each passing frame. At first glimpse, the image was clear, but returning later it had become an abstraction through the application of video filters. While the sort of interactive change that the piece seemed to hinge upon was intriguing, the incongruous relationship between the mutating video and the simple performance didn't really add to the piece. Still, the sounds of dining from Perzyski's video was a suitable accompaniment for Clements' drawing of her kitchen scene.

WILLIAM POWHIDA is an artist and writer living in Williamsburg.