Variety pack

Six artists at the Chazan and 5 Traverse galleries
By GREG COOK  |  March 5, 2008
HIGHLY CHARGED: Harvey Goldman’s Tall

Chazan Gallery at the Wheeler School (228 Angell Street, Providence) offers a lively new four-person show, “Four New Directions” (through March 13), featuring abstract sculptures, robot cartoons, pop painting, and an installation of lights and mirrors.
RISD alum Fitzhugh Baylies Karol of Brooklyn stands out with tall, free-standing, abstract monoliths pieced together from scraps of hardwoods and salvaged barn lumber. Some are nearly seven feet tall and resemble bulky, patchwork airplane wings; others are smooth, slender planks, around three feet tall, that might bring to mind the work of sculptor Constantin Brâncusi. Karol has an appealing way with wood, mixing smooth, cracked, and rough textures; stained and raw; shades of brown, red, and gray.
Krysztof Mathews of Warwick has been developing an elaborate mythology about a “biomechanical species known as the Endomeq.” It’s a fun, crazy idea, but the digitally-drawn prints and little sculptures of robots here are mixed. Mathews’s strength is his sculptures, which resemble a howitzer on wheels, a robot caterpillar, garbage cans with electronic eyes and guns, or mechanical beetles. They have the detail, character, and invention of, say, Star Wars droids. Mathews uses them as models for cartoony computer renderings: a pair of flying robots firing lasers or fire at each other, a tracked robot knocking over a potted plant and scrawling “Me King” on a wall with crayons. But many of the digital images feel generic, lacking the specificity that animates his sculptures. And the scenes could use more drama and mystery — the robots often seem to be just posing or milling around. I’d like to see what Mathews would come up with if he built landscapes for his robots to inhabit — whether as independent sculptures or as models for computer graphics.
Michael Owen of Providence offers a group of pop realist oil paintings on frosty mylar of Godzilla, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian, a Ford Mustang, rocker PJ Harvey in a slinky red dress, and the marquee from a Las Vegas casino. Each one appears alone on a bare white background like specimens of cool culture. They feel like pop ditties — catchy but kind of slight.
Bohyun Yoon’s fascination with the human body has led him in the past to play around with clear plastic clothing and naked models covered with mirrors. Here the Providence artist creates a darkened back room with mirrors on each end and a sheet of sheer fabric hanging from the ceiling in between. Two projectors shine separate images of a man and woman onto the mirrors so they reflect onto the fabric, overlapping to form a hybrid lady-man. I hoped technical razzle-dazzle might salvage a so-so premise, but muddled lighting confuses the effects.

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