Ten Baltimore Exhibitions of Note in 2015 by Terence Hannum
1. Joachim Koester Message from Andrée @ BMA
Writing about art is entirely selfish for me because I get to figure out what it is about a work or exhibition that may confound me. Joachim Koester’s film installation was one of those pieces. Message from Andrée is composed of a matrix of documentary, abstraction, experimental film and pure fiction that I found completely compelling. Somehow it said more about extremity and mortality than a more pictorial documentary could ever evoke.
2. Rosy Keyser Lap of the High Plains @ Freddy
I’m obsessed with destruction in my own work and constantly look for other artists who put it to use. Be that the excellent Alberto Burri show at the Guggenheim this year or Rosy Keyser’s exhibition in the final exhibition at Freddy. This was Rosy’s first exhibition of sculpture and the risk paid off. Taking discarded chairs and stripping them of coverings, reconfiguring their parts and assembling them in reductive useless configurations really made an impact on me this year.
3. Joe Pflieger & Chris Dorland surface surface (hey mr. goat) @ Randall Scott Projects
As we progress into the 21st century one of the nagging questions is about our desire to archive and document, and with that comes the role of photography. This two person show struck me as trying to rope off some territory for the photograph. First by establishing the ability to manipulate the representational image into abstraction by way of the vernacular of painting featured in Chris Dorland’s quasi painting collages. Second with Joe Pflieger’s reflective and solarized photographs that complicated your vision by pushing your gaze away from the landscapes he captured.
4. Jean Alexander Frater Painting Between the Means @ Guest Spot
Things fall apart. A part of the dialogue in painting is the surface’s relationship to the wall. For example does a painting hold the wall and act as an extension of that plane or does it struggle to escape the gravity and emerge into the liminal space of sculpture. This exhibition has stuck with me because how some acrylic paintings with their careful grids and gradations of color were handsome yet other pieces in the show pushed off the wall or fell off of the wall, canvas bundled up like some accident on the way to relief like if a Morris Louis or Larry Poons painting was taken hostage by Stephen Parrino.
5. Anne Libby Lillies Lamellae @ Metropolitan Structures
Metropolitan Structures is housed in a private residence inside of a Mies van der Rohe building and is by invitation only. This enhances the intimacy of the careful work by Anne Libby whose incisions and interventions on folding tables generated new walls and props inside of the domestically situated gallery. The laser clean lines sliced away odd shaped portals and rounded apertures in the common folding table exposing them as non-functioning nets, barriers or hole filled impediments to the flow of the Modernist housing.
6. Timothy App Recent Paintings @ Goya Contemporary
Timothy App is an artist whose work I always enjoy seeing because of its control and unexpected conclusions. There are some strong paintings from this exhibition that stand out to me, like the blue abyss in “Tuonela” where finding your place to situated yourself becomes an almost uncomfortable phenomenological experience.
7. Lu Zhang topo(log) typo(log) @ ICA at the George Peabody Library
Similar to Joachim Koester’s piece at the BMA, Lu Zhang’s intervention at the Peabody Library about the Library is full of referential and self-referential content. This circular narrative lays down a complex maze of fictions and histories that overlap and cancel each other out with a smart series of six books that act as libraries in miniature.
8. Hermonie “Only” Williams SACCADE @ Terrault
I’ve always found the monochrome to be an aggressive work, one that demands attention from its lack of anything else. The viewer has to look, can’t look away – no matter ho frustrating. That inevitability really struck me with this work, the graphite drawings of planar forms, the oversized “game” board. Saccade abruptly moved you somewhere between Sol Le Witt and Jennie C. Jones.
9. Jan Razauskas Carbon Drawings @ MICA
These fragmentary collages by Jan Razauskas blur between hard-edge abstraction and rhythmic form by way of cut carbon paper and residue. This is an extremely strong exhibition full of sure-handed variations on architectural slices visually remixed.
10. PMF VI @ Baltimore Design School
I look forward to this every year, even when I am not participating. This year’s event was overwhelming, with so much work and such a diverse array it made me wish I had spent more time or come back a second day at least. I’m excited for the next iteration.
Author Terence Hannum is a Baltimore based visual artist and musician who performs solo, with the avant-metal band Locrian (Relapse Records) and the dark synthpop duo The Holy Circle. Hannum is an Assitant Professor of Art at Stevenson University. He has had solo exhibitions at Guest Spot (Baltimore), Western Exhibitions (Chicago, IL), Stevenson University, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Gallery 400 at UIC (Chicago, IL). And in group shows at TSA (Brooklyn, NY), sophiajacob (Baltimore, MD), Allegra La Viola (NYC), City Ice Arts (Kansas City, MO) & Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (New Orleans, LA).