Friday, January 9, 2009

Patterns, Neckties, and the Apocalypse at Rebekah Templeton - Where else?

As a lover of repetition and pattern, Second Thursday was great for my soul. Between Sue White's installation Read at the Inliquid Space at the Crane Arts Building (keep your eyes peeled for a future post!), and Dan Schank's Up At Night at Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art, I was well sated with patterns.

Schank works in what is the generally overly popular style based in a mix of graphic novels, comic books, tatoos, cartoons, "untrained" artists, and skateboarding. Usually when I see painting like Schank's, I often feel that they would be much better as screen prints, which would infuse them with an immediacy and an awareness of their markmaking that would improve them exponentially. However, I sense that such painters, with their typical contempt for anything but their own medium, want to make "Real Art," so they have to be paintings.

However, Schank's gouache and cut paper works transcends this philosophy of mine. Schank is expressing in a very fresh way this young, graphic outlook on the world. Yet at the same time, he is the next step in its evolution, with a mature sense of content other than just what's cool that particular second. He incorporates textures and patterns together without overwhelming the viewer, clearly he has a gift for being able to create exactly the right texture he needs. At the same time, he has an exacting attention to detail, yet manages to control negative space and leave open areas for his viewers to breathe in his convoluted landscapes.

The apocalypse is a popular theme for artists right now. Generally, when something becomes fashionable, I develop a certain disdain for it, and want to make sure my own work goes completely in the opposite direction. Yet Schank's lighthearted works avoid the typical didactic feel that underlies such themes. He depicts dark landscapes haunted by impish neckties and laundry. Viewers are torn between the dual senses of the dire and the playful.

(As a final note, despite what I said before, I encourage Schank to venture into printmaking. His graphic sensibility will translate beautifully and the processes will expand and open his sense of play and composition. Trust me).

Up All Night will be on view until February 28, 2009. I encourage those who haven't ventured into Kensington yet to visit gems like Rebekah Templeton, to make the effort soon and not miss this exhibition.

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