Habitat: The Politics of Repetition
Jenny Brillhart, Sol LeWitt, and Frances Trombly.
April 16 - May 30, 2015
Reception: April 16, 2015
In this way, the order of actions becomes an architecture in time, which this beauty can inhabit.
Habitat: The Politics of Repetition
Sol LeWitt proclaims quite emphatically that the idea comes first and the execution should be mechanistic. It should “get the job done.” It should efface expression. Jenny Brillhart and Frances Trombly’s work privilege concepts, certainly, but she also both allow the effects of life and labor and time to show through. As I watch Brillhart and Trombly work and experiment, and work some more, the process and effort is foregrounded. In the Sol LeWitt’s oeuvre (if not the pieces in the show) effort and labor has been identified as exploitable or interchangeable. Or, at least, it does not matter who executes the idea, as long as the idea is properly articulated.
In Brillhart’s practice the repetition is built into the steps she regularly takes: arrange architectural fragments in the studio, photograph, paint, repeat. At times, she consciously departs from the order of these actions – changing the order will change the resulting work. In following the order of actions in time, the effects of time and space reveal themselves in the midst of her repetitions. She wrote, in an interview with me two years ago: “Beauty is really the poetic, usually intuited, it is more process-based, and it is what one can’t control.”
In this way, the order of actions becomes an architecture in time, which this beauty can inhabit. In her pieces in this show, the strangeness of the pieces of wall putty and dry wall is what seems to carry the poetic, along with the dimension of the wood suggested by the shadow over the spare color. There is an openness that would not be allowed in Sol’s, in part because she allows her work to convey time and space.
“Sometimes I think of the paintings as one might appreciate a found object, in that they might not mean anything at first, but simply by inviting them into the work space and letting them hang around, they acquire something, not quite tangible, much like the multiple fleeting and ordinary thoughts and visions”. There is a contrast between Sol’s position on labor and hers. For Brillhart, practice is everything and the work is what has to come from the process. Ideas are as part of her process as is time and space, and so her work, in a way, is more humane.
Trombly comes at it from a similar philosophy, though the difference is that the repetition in her process is built into the very act of weaving. The ruptures in her routine are made visible in change in pattern and in the smallest mistake. She does not erase mistakes. She leaves the thread of time intact.
In her 2010 show, she acted on an observation that her representative sculpture of a canvas drop cloth was barely different than the cloth she weaves as itself. The observation led her to create that entire show with her own hand woven canvas and what she could create from it – a Florence Knoll bench and stretched painting canvases about to be hung, packed away, or painted on. On the last bit, the works introduce uncertainty until we realize all of that is possible, in addition to beings both paintings and sculptures at once. From this point on, there is a distinct sense of present-ness inside of the repetition. This intensity has to do with the fact that this great shift in her practice, from laborious and detail oriented to flowing and accepting, coincided with new motherhood. Nothing is more present and in the moment than being the primary caregiver for a baby. This state of being is forceful too, because an adult human mind naturally thinks about other things and life goes on, but the baby always pulls you back into the present.
In both Patterned Mistakes pieces, Frances changes her pattern whenever she is interrupted. The diaristic aspects of this work cannot be delegated, as is possible and built into LeWitt’s executive practice.
Sol LeWitt’s practice is generous in that its aesthetics and practicalities propagate pleasure in order and math. His instructions allow a studio to continue to re-create and maintain his work even after his death in 2007, and the industry of his oeuvre supports the livelihood of many. I see this and understand it, and yet I prefer the practices of Brillhart and Trombly over his, because they speak of truths in my world. I too am drawn to presentness.
About the Artists
Jenny Brillhart lives and works in Miami, FL, and holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting from New York Academy of Art and a Bachelors of Arts in American History from Smith College. She studied painting and drawing at University of New Hampshire and the Art Students League of New York. Brillhart has had three solo exhibitions at Emerson Dorsch, Noonday in 2014, Material in 2011, and New Work in 2009. Recent solo shows include Accumulation at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Hollywood, FL (2013); and An Extra Space at Kuckei + Kuckei, Berlin, Germany (2013). Selected group exhibitions include Miami Cityscapes at Frost Museum of Science, Miami, FL (2015); Flat Prospects an Outdoor Installation at History Miami, Miami, FL (2014); Room Service at Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany (2014); Cutouts at Dimensions Variable, Miami, FL (2013); ARCO Madrid with Kuckei + Kuckei, Madrid, Spain (2013); Good and Plenty at Art Center South Florida, Miami Beach, FL (2010); New Work Miami at Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL (2010); Florida Contemporary 2010at Naples Museum of Art, Naples, FL (2010); Die Sprache der Dinge – Niederlandische Stilleben der Sammlung SOR Rusche im Dialog mit Kunst der Gegenwart at Anhaltinischen Gemaldegalerie, Dessau, Germany (2008); and Group Show at Roemerapotheke Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland (2007). Jenny was awarded an artist residency at Vermont Studio Center. Recent press includes The Miami Herald, Ocean Drive Magazine, Orlando Weekly, New American Paintings, INFORADIO Berlin, The Financial Times (Germany), Berliner Zeitung, andMiami Sunpost. Her works are included in the collections of Keith Flaherty, Jeremy Chestler, Upstairs Studio, Nick Brownlee, Robin T. and Stuart Ray, Joachim Schloesser, Loren Roberts, Brooke Feder, and Fifty Cent.
Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and lived and worked in various locations including New York, Spoleto, Italy and Chester, Connecticut. Lewitt was linked to various movements, including Conceptual art and Minimalism, both of which he is regarded a founder along with Ad Reinhardt, Tony Smith, Donald Judd, John McCracken, Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, and Robert Morris, among others. His two and three-dimensional work includes wall drawings, works on paper, gallery-sized installations, and monumental outdoor pieces. He has been the subject of hundreds of solo exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world since 1965. His works are found in some of the most important museum collections including Tate Modern, London, the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, National Museum of Serbia in Belgrade, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Hallen fur Neue Kunst Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia, Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Dia:Beacon, the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Frances Trombly was born in Miami, FL, where she lives and works, and co-directs Dimensions Variable, an artist-run space. She received a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and completed residencies at the Capri Palace in Anacapri, Italy in 2009 and the Vermont Studio Center in 2007. Trombly has exhibited throughout the US, as well as venues abroad, including an installation at Socrates Sculpture Park in New York and numerous group exhibitions. Recent exhibitions of her work include Frances Trombly: Over and Under at Locust Projects, Miami (2013); Americana: Formalizing Craft at Perez Art Museum Miami (2013); United Statesat The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (2012); Not Paintings at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (2011); Come Together at Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL (2011); Everything and Nothing at Goldie Paley Gallery, Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia (2011); Paintings at Girls Club, Fort Lauderdale, Florida (2010); New Work Miami at Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL (2010); and A Point From Which to Start at Galeria Casas Riegner, Bogota, Colombia (2010). Her work has been featured in various publications includingThe New York Times, Art Papers, Sculpture Magazine, Surface Design Journal, and The Los Angeles Times and is in the permanent collection of the Perez Art Museum Miami and Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Florida, as well as in private collections throughout the United States. In 2009, she received a South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship for Visual & Media Artists.