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Art review: Dawn Clements at ACME

May 28, 2010 |  9:00 pm
400._ClementsColorBedFull In 2000, during a residency at Middlebury College, Dawn Clements made a drawing of a chair. She affixed more paper to the original page, extending the drawing to include the wall, and kept going until, four months later, she had drawn the entire apartment on one continuous, appended sheet. Based in Brooklyn, she has been making organically spreading panoramic drawings ever since, chronicles of the spaces around her as well as interiors derived from film and television. One of her sprawling ballpoint pen drawings is a high point of the current Whitney Biennial.

Her first solo show in L.A., at ACME, is a bit thin, considering the visual extravaganzas she’s capable of, but it gives a good sense of Clements’ absorbing style and technique. Diaries in real time, the drawings are drizzled with snippets of dialogue from radio and television, and perhaps also found conversation. Clements also writes notes to herself — shopping lists, telephone numbers, addresses — around and atop the drawn images. Like Manny Farber’s magnificent tabletop still lifes, Clements’ drawings function as extended self-portraits, intermingled inventories of the domestic and pop cultural.

400.ClementsShoe09 In one small, sweet ink drawing, a shoe oversteps its page, so Clements adds strips of paper along the edges on both sides to accommodate heel and toe. In another, broad horizontal piece, she links interior scenes from the 1947 film, “Possessed,” to form a continuous panning shot, a slow sweep across a dark, moody room.

The largest and most compelling work, “My bed pleins d’odeurs légères,” hangs like a well-worn tapestry, irregular in contour but 166 inches at its widest point. Combining ballpoint pen, pencil and gouache, the drawing tenderly considers the artist’s intimate space, detailing the patterns on her bedsheets, and the objects collected on her windowsill and table: a sketchbook with pens and pencil aligned neatly atop; a pair of decaying apples; a mug of coffee. Time unfolds in this work at the pace of thoughtful observation, and perspective shifts as necessary to reflect the ongoing present. The honesty and earnestness of Clements’ approach is rare, and deeply nourishing.

– Leah Ollman

ACME, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 857-5942, through Saturday. www.acmelosangeles.com

Images: "My bed pleins d’odeurs légères," 2007 (top) and Shoe. Courtesy of the artist and ACME.
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