The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

May 21, 2013

Formal yet modest paper works at Rebekah Templeton

Posted by CSchwartz

Caroline Santa and Mauro Zamora take their paper creations to Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art for a display of the formal elements and personal histories hidden within the shapes, colors and layers of their artworks. The exhibit, entitled “Précis,” refers to a concise written summary. This is in many ways a nod to their roughly Modernist predilections, which exist without the baggage of mid-century idealism and gravity.

Mauro Zamora, "Stacked Grid."

Zamora seems to anchor his images in shapes which are at times flat, black and geometrical but occasionally detailed, crystalline forms. An excellent example of this contrast is “Stacked Grid.” Here, a pair of skewed red and blue grid patterns form the background for a pile of hard-edged objects and sketches. Black boxes, lines, empty red semi-circles and faceted shapes lie in apparent disarray, as if the artist were still planning the composition for an upcoming piece. The violet crystals are particularly eye-catching, as they appear to grow across the page and beneath the more weighty blocks.

Mauro Zamora, "Détente." Mauro Zamora, "Détente."

Across the way, Zamora attempts to ease the strain of seemingly unending ideological bickering with “Détente.” Instead of being overtly political, this piece merely includes what appears to be the only concrete image in the show: a printed photo of the United States Supreme Court. This bastion of justice is buried and obscured behind other painted segments, one of them symbolically similar in structure to a cage or jail cell. While these charged images seem to carry a clear message, a blob of slowly-encroaching, bright yellow goop forms in the corner and threatens to take over the entire scene with its non-objective formlessness.

Caroline Santa, "Symbols and Signs." Caroline Santa, "Symbols and Signs."

In a departure from a focus on composition, Santa also places her works on tables and even the floor. This gesture helps remove these two-dimensional art objects from their role as 'paintings' or 'collages' simply through their placement. “Symbols and Signs” lies on the ground as if it has fallen off the wall and no one has bothered to pick it back up. This passively destructive attitude is also reflected in the fact that this piece lacks any obvious signs or symbols, instead consisting of black and white stripes, red and green sponged textures, and a few brown dots in place of any profound message.

Caroline Santa, "See Through Dots." Caroline Santa, "See Through Dots."

More of a lean toward formal tropes, “See Through Dots” takes the apparently misplaced brown spots of Santa's floor-based piece and includes their negative – a brown sheet of paper riddled with roundish holes. A contrasted wash of red-covered-in-blue spray paint fills the center of the paper and, although the spattered white and red background sheet is visible through the gaps, still peeks out from the front sheet on both the left and right sides.

Overall, “Précis” is a stylistic summary of sentiment and design more than anything of obviously (and oftentimes disgustingly) high concept. It is modest and welcoming, yet gently draws from a history that is rooted in lofty and highbrow philosophies. The work will be on view at Rebekah Templeton through June 22.

Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art is located at 173 W. Girard Avenue, Philadelphia;;

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