Thursday, June 26, 2008

Armoury Gallery's Second Show

By Aisha Motlani
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Two artists whose work is currently on display at the Armoury Gallery north of downtown tackle the traditional medium of the landscape painting in was that areboth very cotemporary yet at the same time rooted in ancient means of depicting the landscape. The beautiful, richly colored layers of paper and paint that make up Philadelphia artist Dan Schank's work evoke both a the tradition of patchwork quilting and classical Persian miniatures in which landscapes don't recede into the distance but roll upwards like an unfolding scroll. And just as a quilt is made up of recurring motifs and a Persian painting is laden with symbolic forms spelling out a distinct narrative, Schank's work is impregnated with motifs and textures with which he builds up a sometimes unsettling dream-like narrative. His works appear exquisitely crafted rather than drawn or painted; an impression further compounded by the tiny stitchmarks with which they're etched. Chicago artist Elizabeth Ann Lopez's work is just as loose as Schank's is tight. She too attempts to create layered landscapes that superimpose real and surreal images. quite powerful and often humorous - sharks swimming in the air; armies of teeth; mounds of putrid looking scrambled eggs - the effect is not always particularly successful. Her best work here is a large mural painted directly onto the gallery wall and titled "Remake Remodeled in Repose." It appears to be abstract layers of maps, both of the physical and human landscape. Stretched over the basic groundwork are sheets of warped plastic onto which are pinned kidney-coloured shapes possibly denoting human organs. pieces of yarn connecting points across the mural create a mesh that could just as easily denote flight paths as it could the paths of neural messages from the brain. The exhibition runs through July 19. The gallery is located at 1718 N. 1st St.
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