Friday, October 15, 2010

Alison Rossiter, Reduction @Milo

JTF (just the facts): A total of 27 works, framed in white with no mat, and hung in the single room gallery space. All of the works are unique gelatin silver prints, made on expired photographic papers from 1915-1950, and processed in 2010. (Installation shots at right.)

The show contains the following:
9 single images, each 12x10 (hung as a grid)
4 diptychs, each image 24x20, framed separately
7 diptychs, each image 9x7, framed together
7 diptychs, each images 12x10, framed together

Comments/Context: When you first walk into Alison Rossiter's new show, you might be forgiven for thinking she is a painter, channeling Morris Louis and Barnett Newman using an inky black monochrome palette. Get up close to the works however and you will see they are not actually paintings but photographs, her high contrast abstract forms made by depositing chemical developers (pouring, dipping, etc.) over decades-old expired photographic papers.

In an age when digital technology is forcing many traditional photographic paper makers out of business, her process-centric, darkroom-based works are a conscious look to the past. Her works bring together the physical craftsmanship of the hand made, with the elements of chance introduced by the decaying papers. Blobs of developer pool and puddle in their own ways, and some of the papers have become tinted a light almond, adding softness to the otherwise hard-edged geometric compositions.
Rossiter's abstractions alternate between crisp, angular forms of dark and light, and amorphous organic lumps that resemble Rorschach inkblots. When I first walked into the gallery, I was most drawn to the bold sharpness of the cool squares and lines; they seemed altogether familiar. But after a few moments, I started to think that these works covered ground that had already been well farmed by any number of painters from the last 50 years, and I became more interested in the bulging and shifting black amoebas. These images seem to better combine the unanticipated and accidental with the conceptual construct of mining the unexpected treasures of the old papers. I like the fact that they are more unplanned and indefinite.
I think the underlying question raised by these works is whether an exciting new visual vocabulary can be developed (no pun intended) using these kinds of processes. "Painting" with chemicals and allowing for chance reactions aren't enough; the results need to take us places we haven't been before. I think the best of the works here have started to go somewhere original, and I will be interested to watch as Rossiter continues to push the edges of photographic abstraction even further.

Collector's POV: The prices for the works in this show are as follows. The 12x10 single images are $2350 each. The larger 24x20 diptychs are $4950, while the smaller 9x7 diptychs are either $3350 or $3400. The 12x10 diptychs are $3900 each. Rossiter's work has not yet reached the secondary markets in any meaningful way, so gallery retail is likely the only option for interested collectors at this point. I first saw Rossiter's work at Stephen Bulger's booth at AIPAD; he also represents the artist (here).

Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)

Transit Hub:

  • Artist site (here)
  • Review: New Yorker (here)
Through October 30th

Yossi Milo Gallery
525 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001

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