Review: Castillo at Tarryn Teresa Gallery
Two of Castillo’s three installations at Tarryn Teresa Gallery are made of synthetic hair, and the third evokes flowing tresses but is made of rope. Hair — including its surrogates and artificial substitutes — is a perfect post-minimalist material, pure in line and rich in bodily and cultural associations. That suggestiveness helps give Castillo’s otherwise subdued work a measure of power.
“Strand” is the simplest but the most affecting. It consists only of a length of industrially heavy rope looped around an iron hook in the ceiling. The rope twists around a few times on its way down; then, at about chest height, it unfurls, separating into what must be hundreds of wavy strands that fan out across the floor in a giant wedge, ending in a curly rim.
The relationship of part to whole is rendered with beautiful immediacy. Strength divides into delicacy and vulnerability; grace, multiplied, produces formidable heft. The unraveled rope emits a musky smell, that of its raw, fibrous nature. At the same time, it conjures the fabled plaits of Rapunzel.
In “Divinia,” a haloed curtain hangs rather mutely over a small pile of fake black hair. In “Ecliptic Eccentricity,” Castillo (one of this year’s City of Los Angeles, or C.O.L.A., fellowship award winners) dangles five huge hairballs, each 3 feet in diameter, from rusted chains. The spheres hang in a row, four sheathed in black synthetic hair and one matted in platinum blond. They make an imposing presence, like planetary orbs in a schematic display, or oversized, feminized cannonballs. Castillo practices a canny kind of truth to materials: The hair’s function is to beautify, but amassed in this quantity and format, it verges on the grotesque.
-- Leah Ollman
Tarryn Teresa Gallery, 1820 Industrial St., No. 230, L.A., (213) 627-5100, through June 18. Closed Sundays.
Photo: "Excentricidad Ecliptica (Ecliptic Eccentricity)" (2000), synthetic hair and chain. Credit: Tarryn Teresa Gallery