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Acquiring minds

‘Branded and On Display’ and Iván Navarro at Tufts, David Ording and Ledelle Moe at BU
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  January 8, 2008


“BRANDED AND ON DISPLAY” and “IVÁN NAVARRO: NO MAN’S LAND” at Tufts University Art Gallery, 40R Talbot Avenue, Medford | January 17–March 30 | 617.627.3518

“DAVID ORDING: NEW PAINTINGS” at Boston University’s Sherman Gallery, 775 Comm Ave, Boston | January 15–February 29 | 617.358.0295

“LEDELLE MOE: COLLAPSE” at Boston University’s 808 Gallery, 808 Comm Ave, Boston | January 22–March 14 | 617.358.0922

Tall black stripes of varying widths projected onto a white wall seem to undulate like a quietly animated Bridget Riley painting, whereas shaped monochrome canvases might bring Ellsworth Kelly to mind . . . but artist Louis Cameron is as much influenced by supermarket merchandise as by these pioneers of abstraction, taking his cues from bar codes and the color schemes that shout out the brand identity of familiar products. (His paintings have titles like Aquafresh and Newport.) Similarly, the howling, oddly hued monkey in Laurie Hogin’s painting I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! may look like a random escapee from a 17th-century Dutch still life, but Hogin uses this strange creature to comment on how products we know (and love!) by brand name have come to invade our every waking moment. This particular monkey is one of several in her series “Allegory of Psychodemographics: Twenty-Four Brands My Family Uses in a Typical Summer Day” (2006), and she and Cameron are two of the 18 artists and three artist duos whose work is on view in “BRANDED AND ON DISPLAY” at Tufts University Art Gallery starting January 17. Given that virtually every activity in our lives is experienced through purchases, from Babies “R” Us to Batesville Casket, the exhibition’s focus on branding — that place where art and design meet to mess with our powers of critical decision making — is sure to resonate with those of us facing post-holiday bills.

In an interesting pairing, Tufts is also opening on January 17 “IVÁN NAVARRO: NO MAN’S LAND,” three pieces by an artist who grew up in Santiago during the reign of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and whose work joins formalism (treading overtly on the territories staked out by artists Dan Flavin and Tony Smith) with politics and everyday life. Navarro’s sculpture includes, among other things, a shopping cart made of fluorescent light tubes, and a big black cube that you can enter to find yourself serenaded by the Beatles’ “Nowhere Man.”

At Boston University, two one-person exhibitions are on the horizon:“DAVID ORDING: NEW PAINTINGS” opens in the Sherman Gallery on January 15 and “LEDELLE MOE: COLLAPSE” in the 808 Gallery on January 22. David Ording is known for oil paintings that revisit images from the canon of Western art history, transforming works by the likes of Courbet, Caravaggio, and Rubens. Ledelle Moe, who was born in Durban, creates sculptures that range from the huge to the tiny; there’s one group of enormous concrete heads that look like fallen monuments, massive yet fragile. Although Moe now lives and works in the US, you can see how her South African roots inform her perspective.

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