In TW Fine Art’s first exhibition for 2017, it’s easy to talk about the contrasting practices of two very different artists. In The Balance, a joint show with American artists Kimberly Rowe and Paul Owen Weiner, is indeed that – a purposeful contrast of styles.
Los Angeles-based Rowe, a bubbly personality who shimmers with sunlight herself, creates vast lyrical works on sheer expanses of fabric. Fragile and bright, each work glistens with multiple layers of pearlescent colour, glitter, and gems. Working on non-traditional surfaces, the paint bleeds through from front to back, and makes obvious handstitched joins and inherent imperfections in the fabric. Feminine and intuitively wrought, they’re given whimsical titles like ‘Eternal Optimist’, ‘Simply Light’, and ‘Wisdom and Grace’.
Brutal by comparison is the work of Denver-based Weiner. Using monotone black and grey graphite on untreated canvas, his compositions are geometric, heavy and smack of urban grit. Created in response to the 2012 cinema shooting which killed twelve and injured 70 in Weiner’s hometown of Aurora, Colorado, each canvas is named after aspects of the protracted court case that proceeded the event. ‘Amended Motion to Exclude Late-Disclosed Evidence’, ‘Motion for a Certificate to Compel Attendance of XXX, An Outdated State Witness from XXX’, and ‘Supplemental Notification Regarding Potential Jurors’ leave no doubt about the impact of living in Aurora during that time. Touching the untreated works leaves traces of charcoal on your fingertips, a fitting effect given the lasting impression the event had on Weiner.
However, In The Balance doesn’t pull together by virtue of the opposites attract rule. It is the underlying ethos of both artists that creates the palpable synergy. Both highly conceptual artists, Rowe and Weiner are propelled by an interest in phenomenology and a desire to make sense of the world’s disparities. Pushing themselves to find new connections through their art practices, they individually deal with cause and effect, context and meaning. Where Weiner’s is didactic and in your face, Rowe’s approach is subtle and underplayed. Feminist and passionately political, Rowe’s intent is there in the purposeful inclusion of the detritus of her studio. Amongst the jewels and sparkle there are rusty staples, fibres and tool impressions – proof that not all that glitters is golden perfection. It adds an element of industrial roughness to these seemingly weightless works. Even those breathless titles belie their airiness – ‘Fantasy and Faith’, for example, inspired by the story of a friend’s harrowing battle with a persistent form of cancer.
In the Balance is a catharsis that rewards both artists and viewers. At a time when the world seems perilously close to combustion, it is a show that deserves a moment of reflection.
In The Balance – Kimberly Rowe and Paul Owen Weiner
At TW Fine Art until 22 February 2017.