Reviewed: Francesca DiMattio, Jeremy Couillard

“Domestic Sculpture” Francesca DiMattio, Salon 94 Bowery, Apr 1 – May 7, 2015

“Out of Body Experience Clinic”, Jeremy Couillard, Louis B. James, Apr 3 – May 10, 2015

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Image: Courtesy of Salon 94

Francesca DiMattio’s fourth solo show at Salon 94, “Domestic Sculpture,” consists of five sculptures that confront feminine domesticity. Inspired by Turkish tiles, Meissen vases and contemporary kitsch craft, traditional porcelain vases form spouts and morph into a Hieronymus Bosch-like chandelier. There is a true sense of discovery in this show for both the artist and viewer: DiMattio, typically known for her paintings, is new to this medium and her reference to the high-low approach of Betty Woodman is less-than subtle. Still, there is a deftness and individuality to her ceramics. The materiality and weight of Francesca’s work have an undeniable presence.

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Image: BM247OBENN, 2015; Courtesy of the artist and Louis B. James

Jeremy Couillard’s “Out of Body Experience Clinic” at Louis B. James Gallery also imparts a sense of discovery. The entry to the show is constructed as a clinical waiting room, replete with magazines on the table, a Keurig coffee maker, and a check-in desk for your appointment.

Each ‘patient’ is led from the waiting room to a chair, where they are seated and strapped into a virtual reality headset.  Using Oculus Rift technology, Couillard has manipulated an OBE (Out of Body Experience) for the viewer.  Once donning the appropriate gear, we are propelled into an unknown landscape and introduced to a crowd of characters. These figures do not directly interact with the participant:  we are spectator and subject, watched and being watched.  After the OBE is over, you are invited to view an installation of photographs and small sculptures that document the landscape and figures of the other world. The static and confrontational objecthood of the sculptures pulls one back to the reality of the living world, while recalling the immediacy of the virtual world.

The dichotomy between these shows – one using traditional (perhaps antiquated) art making means, the other using the latest technology – couldn’t be more highly contrasted. Yet they succeed on the same ground: each create a heightened experience and symbiotic relationship between the viewer and the gallery space. DiMattio and Couillard amplify the physical limitations of experience via both old and new technology and strike an accord of mutual sublimity.

-Brooke Tomiello, Administrative Assistant 

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