Home and the Unseen World by Camille Erickson
I step into Rosalux Gallery and wish I could take a seat in the world of Shana Kaplow’s ink on paper painting, Traveler. It’s an elegant representation of the basic plastic lawn chair found on so many porches and backyard patios, yet her otherwise realistic rendering of this almost-disposable piece of furniture abruptly dissolves into rows of billowing smoke. In the top register, translucent ink swashes bleed into the pores of the paper, as if the plastic material were melted and then evaporated into a blank expanse. With no back for support and the chair’s arms dismembered, what appears at first glance to be a near photographic replica of a lawn chair morphs into something more uncanny.
In Rosalux Gallery’s August exhibition, Low Lying Area, local artists Shana Kaplow and Rebecca Krinke reimagine such simple pieces of furniture through painting, sculpture, and installation to unearth the connections between the personal and collective embedded in the familiar physical world. In Kaplow’s series of nine ink-on-paper paintings, she selects a plastic lawn chair, a mushroom-shaped stool, a basic black table, and a cotton pillow for her subjects. These common objects become far less so when translated to ink this way, granted a preternatural nobility by virtue of a rare attention and care given to the detailed execution. Kaplow’s rigorous line work and expert ink washes elevate each object, imbue it with an aura of importance exceeding its industrial, mass-produced origins.
Many of Kaplow’s artworks feature diptychs with one image floating on top of another that make for a landscape filled with both cohesion and disillusion. While many image pairings seem to mirror one another, other times they illuminate a stark contrast—between the modern and traditional, expensive and cheap, substantive and ephemeral. For instance, in Expansion of Wealth, a sleek IKEA chair lies lopsided on top of a worn Chinese worker’s stool. Reminiscent of similar re-makings of stools at Kaplow’s recent exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, this stool likewise carries a map of splintered cracks, a testament to years of use. In contrast, the unblemished manufactured materials of the chair above that worn stool references those for sale in the aisles of IKEA. Chairs, some of the most universal objects in the world, seen in this light bear markers of class, status, and culture. The drastic rupture between the overlaid paintings allows for a deeper investigation of the narratives they each carry; in a real sense, the worn stool of a worker supports the production of this attractive and profitable First-World chair. Read the full article at http://www.mnartists.org/article/home-and-unseen-world