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Art review: Nancy Jackson at Rosamund Felsen

September 17, 2010 |  7:00 am

Responding to the sense of alienation in art that she felt had been fostered by modernism, historian and critic Suzi Gablik made a case for “The Reenchantment of Art” in her book by that title, published in 1991. She called for a renewal of art’s social responsibility and moral purpose, a reconnection with its roots in myth and archetype. Though Gablik voiced her concerns about the soulless state of art nearly two decades ago, that despair is just as easily invoked by much of the insular, over-schooled and hyper-strategic work that fills galleries today.

 Which is why Nancy Jackson’s new work at Rosamund Felsen feels so restorative, so truly enchanting. Jackson’s show, as ever, is an event for the spirit, invigorating in its authenticity. A group of mobiles, all-white, floor-to-ceiling cascading rings, dangling dots, loops and fringe, is breathtaking, both blatantly festive and quietly sublime. Made of paper, Styrofoam, aluminum, polymer clay, thread, monofilament and glass, they hint at the mystical and also the musical, while testifying to the fundamental human impulse toward ornamentation.


In one room, six of the mobiles are offset by a group of shiny black, vaguely animal heads on tubular, velvet necks protruding from a painted dark patch on one wall. Comic and grotesque, with sly smiles and ridiculous hats, the pack looks slightly crazed, as if malevolent forces were intruding upon the sanctity of those ethereal, gently twirling white confections, sullying the innocence and purity of the assembly, and playing out a primal conflict between light and darkness. Jackson’s ink and gouache drawings, too, often set beauty against death. Strange, fantastic and darkly funny, they affirm Jackson’s commitment to an art of exquisite craft, complex beauty and a deeply human sense of fear and wonder.

-- Leah Ollman

Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 828-8488, through Oct. 9. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.rosamundfelsen.com

Images: Untitled (top) and The Black Sculpture. Courtesy of Rosamund Felsen Gallery.

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Modern art was all music and poetry, not the theoretical wing of Purism and badly built upon works of Mondrian and Kandinsky that led to the souless state of what we have in Contemporary 'art". As well as the psychobabble of Balthus, Dali, and Magritte, and the games of Duchamp. They were truly not Modern.

Modern art as derived from the post Impressionists like the big five, Matisse, Braque, Picasso, Klee and Miro all evoked God, even with a later pseudo Communist in Picasso, as a result of the Spanish civil war. They always simplified layers of humanity, nature and god in to works that triggered emotions of more in intelligent and sensitive viewers. But the ability to take ones time and feel with the eyes, has been lost through the Pavlovian training of the Academies, because art cannot be taught, it must be earned. Academic is academic, whether now, or a hundred years ago, it is still about catering to their patrons self absorbed views of themselves, and career.

Art is the visual language and related to music in that line is melody, color harmopny, and strucutr rhythm, with the forms created composed into a solid piece that reflects the world we live in, of mind, body and soul. This has been lost, and while this woman does cute stuff, their is no passion, there is no color. It is pop music, or college level of KCRW, not of mature, responsible, sacrificing and passionate adults. Those who raise children, and know of lifes Purpose. Not those who refuse to grow up and so populate the Neverland of Contempt art.

The fear of color we live in, from beige big box McMansions to terribly souless museums reflects the need for control in its patrons, and egos of its architects. Color is no where to be found, and certainly not understood, because it is feared. Color is passion, but is not a splot of pigment here and there, but used as musical chords, or modally, or even atonally. It evokes God, and the passion of living, for god is in purpose.

Bring back color. All the theories the academies spew out are useless, the best teacher or critic can do is create an autopsy of life, they are not artists, as it is the visual language we are dealing with, not cute theories with no basis in life, products of sterile environments and white boxes. Go out into nature, seek god, commune with humanity, not a small cult of artistes, who have become inbred and self exiled in their gilded ghettos.

Art is out here, it is struggle, loss, passion, and triumph of all, not the fears and emotional issues of individuals. Art is NOT self expression, but expressive of life, of humanity, of the soul. Cezanne revealed how, we have failed over the last 50 years, and so returned to academic and easily taught and digested theories, which are irrelevant to life.

Save the Watts/Rodia Towers, tear down the decadent Ivories


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