Alison Blickle "Justice" 2013
Alison Blickle sure has been busy. I feel like it was just the other day that I posted about her show "History of Magic Part 1...The Hermitage," and her follow-up show opens tomorrow at Kravets Webhy. Called, appropriately enough, "The History of Magic Part 2...The Initiation," this show has more opulent occult ladies with teeming textile patterns and accompanying ceramic altar pieces. I'm over the moon about this, because I adore her work and am always thrilled to see more, and I'm hoping that this time I'll finally get a chance to see it in person. Full details:
History of Magic, Part II… Initiation
March 27 – April 26, 2014
Thursday, March 27th, 6 – 8 PM
521 West 21st Street, Ground Floor
New York, New York 10011
Presented as a series of installations, with objects positioned on the floor or on stands like altars in front of opulent representational paintings, the works together tell a story that is part creation myth, part heroic journey. The title, History of Magic, references French occultist and writer Eliphas Levi’s 1860 book on the historical use of sacred imagery in art.
Blickle borrows from the soft romanticism of the Pre-Raphaelites, the flat patterns of the Post-Impressionists, and the ornate, geometric motifs that characterized Art Deco. She also works with the knowledge that 1920s designers found inspiration in Navajo and Egyptian art and in European folk art, which had roots in design of the Moors from Africa. The ceramic objects take loose inspiration from ancient cultural relics, though they also recall the symbolic sculptures elusive artist James Lee Byars made in the 1980s and Blickle works intuitively when giving them their ultimate shape. The meshing of these historical styles intentionally pulls the work in the exhibition outside of the usual constraints of time. This narrative could just as easily have unfolded in the past as the present, or perhaps in a still-mysterious future.
While the scenes in each painting in History of Magic, Part II... Initiation appear ethereal and otherworldly, the objects, often rendered in the paintings as well as in three dimensions, serve to make these scenes more tangible and thus believable. The protagonist and the women sheen counters wear intricately patterned, colorful bodysuits and occupy spaces that are also full of patterns. Blue lines, curved like little streams or diamond shapes cover the backgrounds and tapestries hang from walls, making the images compelling on an instinctual aesthetic level. The figures engage in various rituals, appearing to prepare the protagonist to journey out into the world with the vessel she has made without losing the specific, spiritual energy that defines her and her work. This narrative can also be read as an analogy to the art-making process and the challenge of rendering a highly personal, spiritual, mystical experience in a manner meaningful and tangible to others.
This will be Alison Blickle’s first solo exhibition at the Kravets Wehby Gallery.