Alexandra Limpert at Art 101 Gallery in Williamsburg, through Feb. 12
Article by Lauren Wells
Figurative sculpture and drawings are the focus of Expanding the Landscape, a show of work by artists Alexandra Limpert and Patrick Whalen at Art 101 Gallery in Williamsburg, through Feb. 12.
Art 101 is an extension of gallery director Ellen Rand’s home. Viewers inevitably find themselves squeezed into Rand’s breakfast nook for a glimpse at Whalen’s largest piece. This can be awkward at moments, but also a welcome reminder of the sort of scene that one imagines must exist in contrast to Chelsea: local, no-frills, and “for the love of the art,” as Rand puts it.
Most of the gallery space is devoted to Limpert, who crafts weighty, sometimes disturbed (as in the case of “Baby,” a doll head attached to a mechanism that jauntily shifts the visage back and forth), cyborg-like sculptures.
“It is important for me to show process in my work rather than glossing over surfaces and making a ‘finished’ piece,” Limpert says. “That’s why I make the mechanics inside each figure apparent, to have the interior of each figure show and to show the welds. I think this comes from my background growing up in New York and looking at piers and bridges.”
Alexandra Limpert’s “Baby”
Like “Baby,” most of Limpert’s welded figures have some mechanical element to them – whether to shift eyes right and left, or to move an abstract representation of the heart. During the day, Limbert develops machines for Christmas window displays around the city.
Limpert’s use of open space in her figures, and her choice to often imply the presence of a body part without fully rendering it, leaves the figures bearing half-constructed faces and parts that add another layer of eccentricity to the work.
Lining the west wall of the gallery is the work of Patrick Whalen, whose drawings offer a sharp departure from Limpert’s sculptures. Other than the obvious shared interest in the figure, the connection between these two artists is vague, if it exists at all. Where Limpert’s sculptures are derived organically, through experimentation with materials, Whalen’s drawings are the product of his rather sophisticated studio practice.
“I use empty space in an attempt to mimic the experience of memory,” Whalen says. “Because you always have a fragment, memory is never a full inventory. I’m highlighting banal moments that would normally be passed over by isolating images, and re-contextualizing them. In this sense, I create new images that exist with an absence of narrative, as disparate components. In the way you mis-remember and create fictions, I want people to create their own fictions with them.”
Whalen uses components of photographs, extracted and painted, without context. His work on display consists of a series of five drawings and one larger montage, where elements of each individual work are, again, re-contextualized into a final new scene.
There is a delicate austerity to Whalen’s work that reads well when considered aside his intention. In some sense his studio practice is its own sort of process of distillation; the complexity of each photograph is wiped away in favor of delicate line, the matte simplicity of gouache, and empty space.
Art 101 is located at 101 Grand Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and is open Friday-Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, including pricing: www.art101brooklyn.com, or (718) 302-2242. For more information regarding the individual artists, see: www.alexandralimpert.com, and www.patrickwhalenart.com.