Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Paloma Varga Weisz
Gladstone Gallery/NYC
December 2008

A mysterious purity, refined stillness pervades the work of Paloma Varga Weisz. Only the essential corroborates and fills the work. However unique her varied, materials may be, each piece resonates clarity of line and a whimsy that is medieval in stance and depiction. The posture and glance of the two imposing, woven figures lean into an arc reminiscent of full bellied, medieval madonnas, arms arched, like courtiers at dance. Solemn solitude, the wooden faces are a mask,…the curvature of the basket bodies sway in an endless chaconne,…an interior meditative consciousness plays in their faint smiles. There is an utterly sensitive luxury beyond tactile in the natural wood, hand rendered. Into another room are three gilded heads, edifices, organisms inflated. The patined, coppery surface of bulbous twirled do’s atop muted visages, two in wood, one not, complicit expressions, sly, engaging, secretive. In another room, a wooden cask, itself iconic, a sculptural vitrine for a woman’s hanging fur coat possibly the cask that housed a product that created wealth for such a luxury. From the hanger, earthy porous hands and feet dangling in the balance, the cask ominous and powerful, the black fur coat a somber, bourgeois accoutrement, stillborn, hung. Next tableau, solid, serious work clothes on a seated figure, hunched over a plain desk, simple woolen vestments, durable mien until one sees the fantastical penis nose resting, propped on the table undermining all bourgeois composure, complacency tweaked, satisfaction calmly split asunder…Next to this and on two other wall spaces are a portrait gallery of human visages, each unique,…individuals rendered in water color with zen sufficiency but with all warty imperfections, characterization on target. A refreshing break, work like this is so simple, the antithesis of blowhard, contemporary over the top, overkill,…One adjusts down upon entering the gallery,…down but not devoid, rather a cool, pervasive tonic,…natural materials wrought in a pliant, pre-industrial, hand, features pulled from a northern, cathedral flying buttress or after leaving the gallery, found right there on the street, everyone looked different, out of modern context, all frailties in place,…Realigned with the human.

Stephanie Bell Behnke

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