A few notes on FOLD:
When we started, Fold was a verb. For me, it became a noun. The name of the thing to be captured and explained. Rachel Gladfelter and I started talking about co-curating a show at Planthouse well over a year ago. It gave us a great excuse to see art and artists. What else could a curator want? After FOLD became short hand, it started to shed some of its associations. Early on, a list of notes on the associations; i.e. above the fold, return to the fold, were quickly discarded. We wanted the pieces to do the talking. Ultimately, FOLD is 4 artists making strong work and if you see the connections we see, then all the better.
The artists here became part of FOLD in different ways. I wont deny that I was looking for an excuse to bring Matt Magee’s work to New York or that I wanted to show Martha Lewis’s crunched paper ‘Branes again. Anders Bergstrom’s paper bags became an instant source of fascination and wonder for me. Once Rachel and I understood their creation as prints and the manipulation that makes the trompe l’oeil complete, we had to show them. Rachel Ostrow’s paintings were unknown to me until my co-curator shone a light on these beautifully executed jewel-toned panels
A few notes on the artists (aside from what is in the FOLD press release)::
Anders Bergstrom makes approximations of reality with his constructed bags. These are not appropriation, rather a more painstaking production using printmaking to create something intended as useful, sturdy and cheap. Each bag has it’s own personality; a lean, a crease, a tattered saw tooth edge. What plays out there is text, color and form. Once assembled, the sculpture shows almost no marks of creation. They are full of nothing. It would be easy to think of them as readymades, when the reality is that the process of approximation gives them more of a kinship with Vija Celmins then Marcel Duchamp.
Martha Lewis uses crumpled paper pieces to both reveal and exploit dimensions in fiber and paint. Her forms have elements of topography, cosmology and neurobiology woven into their depths. Scientists study the resilience and weakness of crumpled, folded forms. Lewis makes those same studies and elaborates their folds and creases with ink. Each fault line of stress on the paper shows the possibility of the paper’s change from two to three dimensions. A fold can look like lots of things.
Matt Magee sculpts and paints and does both with an eye toward elucidation of form. His forms, whether a glyph-like path or a visual representation of an invisible phenomena, are read easily. This is the hallmark of Magee’s sculpted form; legibility and clarity. Neither minimal nor conceptual, these works entice with their direct abstract form. In FOLD, Magee paints with a sculpted form in Aluminum Circuit. Metal curves create punch card variability which recall a solar array. What does the collection of light or sonic waves look like?
Rachel Ostrow excavates light. She bends it to her will after creating a field of color for it to exist within. The inky blackness of her plane is world of a unrealized spaces. The place where light blast through the ocean’s depths reveals underpainting but also the gesture of it’s own exposure. Ostrow’s fold is a gesture; a removal of paint to reveal a surface. It makes me, and hopefully most viewers, excited about the process of painting. Like the first photographs capturing an image, creating light where there was none is no small task.
And a few notes about curating:
People are loath to expose their own ignorance, but I prefer to wear mine as badge (certainly not of honor). I often preach transparency and why not live by my own gospel? I am a print dealer and a writer and an amateur art historian. Mostly I love art. I love it so much that I have long told anyone who would listen what I loved, and I why. Sometimes I find my old assumptions at fault and my new ones tenuous at best. I do not give up on an artist often and when I do I usually end up regretting it. Not because they have all the sudden proved me wrong (though it happens), but rather because I should have learned rather than dismissed, embraced what I did not like to examine the root of what I perceive as bad art. All of this makes me a curator, somehow. If you can get people to trust your ideas about what art is good and what art makes sense together, I think you may have earned the title.
And a few last notes on folds:
I am not an expert on folds, but I do have a history with them. When I was laid up as a teenager, my mom brought me a book of origami designs with a stiff rainbow of square paper. After getting a reasonable crane (both flapping and free standing varieties) I started on a few other more ambitious designs. I had long loved the origami Christmas tree ornaments at the Museum of Natural History, because my father had loved it as well. A jumping frog was, and is, my favorite quick origami thing. I folded 1,000 cranes once to celebrate the wedding of my favorite people: Bear and j. The point of all this is that I have long loved the look and feel of a fold. Where origami is best suited by precision, I have never had the wherewithal to exploit that same fold again and again. Each time it is different and that is so much of the fun.
– Jeff Bergman April 2015