Saturday, October 11, 2008

AFTER THE WORDS, James Rosenthal at Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art

From now till November 1, Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art is showing Famous Last Words, an exhibition of video, works on paper, and installation by James Rosenthal.

Rosenthal’s pieces explore ideas of text and image, or maybe I should say, text as image. The works on paper comprise of drawings with letters collaged on top, almost ransom-note style (see above, photo by the Graphic Conscience).

Rosenthal’s ideas seem restrained by adhering to the restrictions of typical rectangular formats. Even his installation, in which screen printed text appears on records and mirrors, felt confined to some sort of plop art version of printmaking. I see much potential but he seems held back by the two-dimensional substrate.

Rosenthal should let himself loose to collage directly on the walls of his spaces to create textual environments. However, I think he should avoid the clean white cube. I sense that if he has an awkward space with architectural character for him to respond to, the space will begin to directly embody his work, elevating it to another conceptual level.

As a final note, I’d like to respond to the question in the work above. As someone who was in Ushuaia, Argentina last year, it was very clear to me that Las Malvinas no se olvidan.

1 comment:

Robert said...

I wonder: Did Rosenthal misspell Falklands on purpose (he used the letters 'Fauklands") to highlight the act of forgetting the war over The Falklands/Las Malvinas, or was it simply a mistake?

I'm not clear what his positions on his references are, or what subversion he is trying to convey. Like the "Shabby Chic" video he exhibited in the same show, the work is visual interesting, but frustratingly lacking in depth. There's a lot of potential here, and I hope he goes further in the future.