Bill Radawec, "In the Basement," Mar. 8-Apr. 13, 2003, at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, 14321 Yale Avenue, Irvine, Ca. 92714
Bill Radawec's latest installation, "In the Basement," is both an exercise in generosity and deep personal exploration in which the artist recreates the basement of his family's home in Parma, Ohio.
Radawec is king of the quirky esthetic, whose past efforts include the aptly titled "natural disaster works," a group of paintings of the fissures in the walls of his Los Angeles apartment, post-Northridge quake. In keeping with this eccentric sensibility, Radawec has continued his investigation into these varied "natural occurrences," only this time out he's added a personal touch.
Radawec turned the gallery into an exact replication of the basement in his family home. The artist, whose exacting nature is certainly evident here, measured the patterns on the basement walls, took color samples and even measured the placement of the nails in the wall.
The work is vaguely haunting and minimalistic. One wall is predominantly white with a section of the wall painted green -- an area where water damage occurred in the real basement. The recreated space seems to double as a container for loss as well as a space where other artists, at Radawec's urging, hung some of their own works.
Radawec has created an odd sort of "set" that could very well belong in a Hitchcock flick, perhaps a previously unvisited section of the Bates Motel. The environment is strange in its bareness, and the fact other artists hang their work in a sacred childhood space is both arresting and jarring.
EVE WOOD is the author of Love's Funeral (Cherry Grove Collections).