PRISKA C. JUSCHKA FINE ART
From Germany and the Netherlands, respectively, Gabriele Nagel and Lin de Mol came together during their 2001-02 residencies at midtown Manhattan's International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP). Besides sharing a personal affinity, both artists work in video and photography; both focus on landscapes and the human body. But here the similarities end.
Though, Gabriele Nagel, born in Dresden, Germany, is a Berlin - based artist, the setting of her works is indefinite. In Someone-Nowhere, anonymous figures populate landscapes nonspecific enough to stand in for any place, from Switzerland to Idaho. The medium of these works and the video Clean Up. Clear Up. is similarly difficult to pin down. All of these works belong to a long history of camera-assisted painting that includes Vermeer and Warhol. From original photographs, Nagel digitally transformed the landscapes in Someone-Nowhere into flattened, simplified, coloring book images, which she then filled in with simple colors. Her Clean up. Clear up. on the other hand, started as video but looks like animation, a comparison emphasized by a few simple, comic sound effects.
This blurring of boundaries continues in Nagel's Milkyway Comeshot, a video that transforms portrait photography into action painting. A series of 11 men, their heads and torsos bare, lie on colored sheets. Although their faces express varying degrees of amusement, each one gives off the same air of anticipation -- until the cold, milky payoff. Actually, it's more like a payback. Either way, the piece is an extended meditation on role reversals and the pleasures and discomforts of bodily fluids.
Lin de Mol's dream-like imagery creates a series of narratives whose languid surrealism contrasts Nagel's quirky immediacy. In "Lions and Frogs," for example, a living room similar to the one installed in the gallery is the setting for a fractured domestic mise-en-scene featuring a man and a woman passing through the space like disturbed spirits. "Warm & Tender Love"leaves a similarly unsettling impression. Its bowl of slowly flaming fruit, accompanied by the Percy Sledge song, which gave the work its title, is a siren's call, simultaneously seductive and destructive.
Relying even more on sensuous visual display, her series of landscapes mounted in light boxes collage endoscopic photos of the human heart with scenery from exotic locales across the globe. The resulting images are lush and gorgeous in their impossibility. Dividing the gallery space is two of de Mol's botanical photos – "Obesa Monstrose" and "Pinyon Pine" -- unaltered and printed on voile curtains. Their conflation of interiority and exteriority perfectly sums up the contradictory impulses in her work.
The exhibition has been kindly supported by the Consulate of the Netherlands in New York.
Gallery hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM or by appointment.