When visual intelligence is made manifest through equal measures of wit, invention and discovery it is a welcome event. Nancy Monk’s solo exhibition at Craig Krull Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica is just such a salve.
Intense patterns inhabit every work on exhibit. And for Monk’s particular paradigms, good things come in small packages. 52 pieces are individually listed on the checklist and that’s not counting a vitrine of two dozen really small works, none of which (it warrants mentioning) is either an etude or dismissible as light.
Compositional catalysts reoccur in the exhibition but each lead to different destinations. Three works that bear this observation out are Dog Tree, Spot Flower (both from 2011) and Grey Daisy (from 2012.) All three start with black paper. Dog Tree and Grey Daisy have collaged archival pigment prints of 19th century textured ceiling tiles cut in squares and circles. Monk arranges the squares in a somewhat symmetrical grid pattern in Dog Tree. The circles are more randomly placed in Grey Daisy, some even over lapping. Then Monk paints white, leaving lines of black connecting the circles, encasing the squares and revealing an elegant complex flower in Spot Flower. Each work bears the rigor of process and the improvisational riffs of a supremely confident artist trusting her intuition. Grey Daisy humorously winds up like a diagram of the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life on steroids.
Synaptic recognitions also occur from piece to piece and room to room creating a narrative thread. Whether that thread is frayed, tightly woven or languidly unfurled is entirely up to the viewer’s imagination. Take for instance the appearance of a little icon, which could either be a tree or a character in a play: a gold dot supported by a black pin/base. This icon appears in Piers, Sauna Tree and Cliff (each from 2010), Blue Eyed Dog and Spaceship (both 2009.) Cliff is the most naturally anthropomorphic with our diminutive hero tittering on the edge. They are all funny and exquisitely rendered.
Lastly, almost in an embarrassment of riches, there’s a series of painted stereo optic vintage photographs that defy comprehension or simple definition. As with any good art, it must be seen to be believed.
-Mario M. Muller, April 15th, 2011
Nancy Monk at Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica continues until May 19th, 2012
also by Mario M. Muller
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