Allegra LaViola Gallery opens Materiality. Joey Archuleta, Yevgeniya Baras, Thornton Dial and Matt Stone

Allegra LaViola Gallery presents Materiality: Joey Archuleta, Yevgeniya Baras, Thornton Dial and Matt Stone , an exhibition on view March 15 – April 21, 2012. Investigating the relationship between materials, process and product, the exhibition examines the formality and informality of the object.

The four artists in Materiality arrive at the same point by very different paths. Each is circling his chosen media before deciding on how and when to attack, though when the strike occurs it is with a precise violence.
Joey Archuleta’s assault on his works feels like we have weathered a war to get here. The surfaces of the paintings are convex, as if he has punched them in the guts during their making. In works like Caricultural Misdirection, a delicate layer of thin paper rests atop the board, fanning slightly at the edges. The central portion is scrubbed away and a thick layer of cracking paint oozes from the top, bleeding down the face. We find ourselves resting in the prettiest of rooms while desperately clawing to be let outside for air when the benevolence of a toothy smile turns to a snarl.

The sensation of ensnarement follows us to Yevgeniya Baras’ paintings. Though restricted in size to ladylike proportions, the paintings do not lack heft. They are literally torn apart, sewn back together, molded and battered into submission by the bulk of their surfaces. Despite this rough treatment, they thrive: glittering coyly or flashing a breadth of bright pink under a heavy impasto.

Thornton Dial straddles the space between the sculpture, painting, assemblage and installation. Unlike Baras and Archuleta, whose works bombard the surface, Dial’s heavily layered pieces seem to blossom outwards organically, unable to be contained. Textiles unfold and fold again, circling flowers or branches. Trees sprout forth and bodies appear ready to walk from out of the painting. The feeling that the works might multiply and invade while we sleep is palpable. While they are beautiful, they are also hideous—a little too much for polite society. Dial does not stop and knock. He cuts down the door with one well-timed blow of an axe.

The repellent aspect of nature also occurs in Matt Stone’s sculptures. Like the beautiful outer layer of snail’s shell, which beneath contains the slimy beat of the animal, so too the repulsive invades in Stone’s sculptures, where childish colors fan and froth over barbed cardboard punctuated by bright pins. Screws share the space with plastic jewels and glue is lacquered over plywood. The simple components look benign and lighthearted, but malevolence lurks beneath. A dark slick spill of oil is drizzled over the pastels, and the colors take on the hue of a nuclear waste rainbow. Stone reminds us that children are often the cruelest of people.

Materiality explores the relationship of matter and mind and how we reconcile them. The line between the worlds is thinnest at moment of transcendence, when the barrier is broken and the two can exist in harmony, untethered to the actual elements that made them. –

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