Lael Marshall and DeWitt Godfreyby Tomassio Longhi
Black and White Gallery
In her first solo show, Lael Marshall displays a strong repertoire of motifs derived from daily events, words, signs, or random images and painted them accordingly. Although her painterly language reminds us of Neo-Expressionist painting of the 1980s—I mean, the utilization of unrelated images and recomposing them in a number of disparate stylistic manners—Marshall’s relationship to her work is more intimate in scale and seemingly less extravagant in subject matter: Schnabel, for example, often loaded his work with mythological and historical references. Overall, the small paintings are charming and at times witty, yet I prefer the larger works because they are more complex and revelatory, especially in that the working process is generously exposed on the painted surface.
Capable of moving, stretching and flexing to maximize its own flimsy and ribcage-like structure, DeWitt Godfrey’s corten steel sculpture "Driggs Sculpture" (2002) is site specifically intended for the gallery’s outdoor space. In contrast to its monumental size, taking up almost the whole floor with three separate pieces squeezed in by the containing walls, the work has a familiar scale to human proportion. This may be a result of the fact that pieces almost erotic, undulating curves are the result of the downward pull of gravity, making the steel plates feel uncannily fragile. Unlike Richard Serra’s work, which commands absolute control of the environment and permits no effect of chance or surprises, Godfrey’s work invites the viewer to participate by walking through and being in it. It’s only then that the viewer’s physical contact changes everything. The whole relationship is reciprocal as if it is a sort of collaboration between the artist and the viewer. Godfrey’s ability to invoke the biomorphic and organic nature of form making is lyrical, not architectural.
TOMASSIO LONGHI is a contributor to the Rail.