BLACK AND WHITE: LINEAR DESCRIPTION
APRIL 7 – JUNE 1
511 Gallery is pleased to present BLACK AND WHITE: LINEAR DESCRIPTION, an exhibition of art by seventeen modern and contemporary artists who explore the realm of “mingled opposites”: the contrast between the drawn black line on a sheet of white paper; the effects of sunlight or artificial light on black photographic paper; the marks left by black ink on light surfaces through silk-screening, etching, or traditional application with a brush.
The art on view are drawings, prints, photographs, paintings, and two sculptures that rely on the linear qualities of black and white for description and expression. Where there is any color evident in the works, it is often simply a punctuation, such as the tiny, blue rooftops of the village set at the base of Moon Mountain in Wang Jiqian’s painting, or the lipstick-red lips in Lucy Levene’s photograph of a London nightclub scene, The Kiss (from the Come and Be My Baby series).
BLACK AND WHITE; LINEAR DESCRIPTION is to some extent a respite from the world of color – the relentless color of advertising, television, film, and fashion. Where color tends toward the specific, telling what something (or someone) “looks like,” line can be suggestive and implicit, as in an artist’s sketch or an architect’s draft. Black and white work is often more evocative of the artist’s hand.
The sculptor Jennifer Odem makes objects in rousing blues and greens, and we see immediately that they are gender-identified, playful, and palpable; but her drawings, that are only sometimes ideas for her sculptures, are both concrete and ambiguous, even mysterious. Though fully realized works, the drawings leave the viewer free to bring his or her subjective reading to the open space that is an essential aspect of the artwork. Unexpectedly, the same is true of Norman Rockwell’s charcoal work, WINTER, a drawing of a father and son bowling. The lines define size, scale, form, figures, and site, and yet the open space and the absence of color allows us to see and read a myriad of meanings in the image – from father/son relationships, to physical prowess vs. safety, to knowledge as power, and so on. The drawing truly illustrates what at first appears to be a simplistic notion, but then opens up that idea in an indicative and compelling manner. As the photographer Mary Ellen Mark said, “I see more in black and white. I like the abstraction of it.”
The exhibition presents drawings by Jason Buchanan, Leslie Lerner, Maro Michalakakos, Jennifer Odem, Lesley Punton, and Norman Rockwell; paintings by Wang Jiqian and Lesley Punton; prints by Lee Bontecou, David Hockney, and Ross Racine; photographs by Jocelyne Alloucherie, John Dominis, and Lucy Levene, Robert Miller, and Eric Tomberlin; and sculptures by Mark Mennin and Jacqueline Metheny.