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Unfatigued by this Exhibition

New ways of seeing the ordinary at RedLine

Apr. 2, 2014
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Contrary to its title, “Fatigue” is an energizing show. It suggests the many possibilities RedLine, as a gallery and studio for making art, has to offer. This exhibition showcases founding members Lori Bauman, Laura Merage and Steve Vande Zande, who manage to surprise, amuse and emotionally prod the viewer. They also inspire new ways of looking at ordinary materials, such as packing tape, for example.

The work of all three is mingled throughout the gallery and plays off of each other. Merage provides the aerial backdrop, with photographs printed on gossamer-like fabric. Lightly swaying like flags, the distorted, blurry purple images are like still-frame Francis Bacon paintings. Some of these self-portraits are grimacing and open-mouthed, all teeth and tongue with dark, secluded eyes. In others the face blurs out, leaving only a skull-like form.

Bauman spices up the human figure through mixed-media collages using fabric, paper and sewing patterns, plus the aforementioned packing tape, among other things. Her and Them, with deeply textured surfaces of stuff, draw awareness to the presentation of the bodies we all walk around in. The display of these works is clever as well, hung on the wall with trouser hangers. Other collages in her Ohm series seem to pay homage to the Dadaist art of Hannah Höch, with disjointed landscapes, looming children’s heads and mismatched eyes. Bauman follows suit in the Humpty Series. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men wander, twist and tumble, unrecognizable at times. Humpty is hapless, confidently dapper and dressed in a suit—then over for a spill he goes in a metallic, dreamlike world formed through collage on gleaming aluminum composite panel.

Vande Zande breaks free from the walls with sculpture and installations of material such as rope, twisted into grasping hands, and outlines of heads crawling up a wall. Some of the best-installed pieces are his prints in the Urging Nausea series. Low to the ground, the black outlines of bodies set against blocks of bright color are empathetic and curiously enthralling. This sentiment holds true for much of this memorable exhibition.  

“RedLine Founders: Fatigue” continues through April 12, at RedLine Milwaukee, 1422 N. Fourth St.


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