"Merce Cunningham, Robert Smithson, Hannah Wilke: Drawings and Collages," May 17-June 14, 2003, at SolwayJones, 5377 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, Ca. 90036.
Imagine Hannah Wilke, Robert Smithson and Merce Cunningham living together in the same tight unit of controlled space. Upon seeing the current show of drawings at SolwayJones, you very well might come away with a vision of the three of them in divine union on a sprawling farmhouse in upstate New York, surrounded by trees and animals, yet each haunted by a hidden and unnamable force.
Hannah Wilke drew what she lived, as she lived it, and many of the works here attest to this. In Rosemount Dundrum, a soldierly array of kneaded erasers populate the picturesque landscape of a literal "picture postcard," and the implied movement of their small gray bodies across the picture field is unsettling. Many of Wilke's drawings seem bizarrely animated, as though at any moment they would spring off the page. In Rooster, Wilke has captured in charcoal and pastel, the strained violence of a bird, at once powerful and delicate.
Robert Smithson's piece Algae (1961-63) is truly a "green" composition, the word "algae" scrawled in a multiplicity of greens, and around which float images of turtles. Very funny, and like other Smithson works in this show, text is employed as a tool to facilitate movement.
Movement is definitely central to Merce Cunningham's practice, yet of all the works in this show, Cunningham's drawings are the most still. In Tiger 5-3-97 #9, a wondrous childlike hand is at work. The image is powerful in its directness. In Untitled Diptych (Frog/Flower), Cunningham's spareness of line resolves itself in the surrounding negative space, which seems to both close in on the squat little frog even as it opens out.