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    Orb Obsessed
by Carlo McCormick
 
     
 
Untitled
1997-98
 
Untitled
1997-98
 
Untitled
1997
 
Untitled
1997
 
"Sphericity" was the title of Gregg Woolard's recent exhibition of paintings and works on paper at A&A, a small storefront gallery at 13 Stanton Street in New York. And indeed, Woolard is obsessed with circles, dots, spheres, orbs and ovals. But we're not dealing with some kind of formalist abstraction here. Rather, the repetition of motif is so insistent that the work seems to turn towards a realm of obsessive fascination, receding into a highly idiosyncratic intoxication, a nearly perverse compulsion, where art-making becomes a visionary private practice predicated on fetish.

This notion of abstraction blows it out of its usual historical space into an exploding pulsating universe of utter visual effect, a mesmerizing seduction of surface where dimensionality implodes into a pattern-and-decoration rave of hypnotic optical fx. Irregular, irrational and intuitive, Woolard's hybrid constructions of spontaneous order are all play. In the disruptive fun, fantasy and fluidity of their casual conception and equally quirky construction, all those dots circle around circles that dot-resonate in obtuse relationships like a dissonant symphony of curious correspondences in which doodles and drawings, the cut, sewn, drilled, routed and carved conjoin in an undulating swirling synthesis of form and style.

Woolard's work may look and smell like fine art, but his inspiration is something more practical: craft. The artist's studio reveals itself to something of a folkloric city-shack of homemade amusements. Woolard is obviously as in love with the power-saw and needle and thread as he is with paint and crayons. It's as if he makes things just to cut them up and put them back together again, except the reassembly takes fractured forms of dislocated linearity.

No mark he makes exerts the self-satisfied authority of intent by which abstract painting must exert itself. Instead, all is ephemeral, incidental and left over. From the pointillistic screen of dancing dots made by dabbling different florescent colored glues, to the drawings deconstructed in cut-and-paste assemblage that are then abraded and scraped into elusive after-images, this is an art of the residual, where gesture is not the articulation of the mind but the will of the hand.

Upon a surface constantly molting in unconscious modulations of design and myriad textures, scars and traces, Woolard conjures the vibrant mandalas and enigmatic Rorschacs of a desire he never fully reveals or explains, but leaves in little pieces that serve as compelling clues to the loss of intention and need for decision in contemporary art.


CARLO McCORMICK is associate editor of Paper.

 
 
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