A Random Meander: James Cullinane, Nene Humphrey and Taney Roniger
Opening reception: June 4, 2015, 6-9pm
In French flânerie refers to the act of strolling, taken literally it means someone who is a stroller, lounger or saunterer. Walter Benjamin describes the flâneur as an uninvolved but highly perceptive bourgeois dilettante, a product of modern life and the Industrial Revolution without precedent, a parallel to the advent of the tourist. Reflecting on the poetry of Charles Baudelaire, Benjamin thought the flâneur an emblematic archetype of urban, modern experience strolling the streets of cities aloof, but absorbed by the activity, sites and sounds of the city.
The work of three artists in A Random Meander: James Cullinane, Nene Humphrey and Taney Roniger, like the flâneur, revel in this freedom of exploration and visual titillation created by the manipulation of systems or networks and repetition to investigate visual and conceptual space. Each artwork in the exhibition allows the viewer to follow random paths and connect the dots through unknown spaces that result in mapping of unrestricted and unfamiliar places.
James Cullinane’s work, highly influenced by his favorite poets Dante, Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Mallarmé, has long navigated a relationship between Expressionism and Conceptualism through dualities like implied, pictorial space versus actual physical space, meaning versus non-meaning and structure verses improvisation. The new acrylic and ink on panel pieces in A Random Meander begin as one arbitrary point on the picture plane; that point then connected to another point and another and another and so on with one simple straight line branching randomly left and right. Repetition after repetition covers the panel surface extemporaneously and the resulting optical effects, the result of the process, imply structures or plans. This process Cullinane says, “has to do with finding a way to move beyond what I think I know about an image…” to arrive at something more meaningful; something structured yet just beyond understanding.
Nene Humphrey’s wall installation Every Force Evolves a Form, made from hundreds of corsage pins wrapped with strips of hand dyed silk, is from her Small Worlds series which grew out of her investigations of the deep cellular workings of the human brain during a residency at the LeDoux Laboratory at New York University. Humphrey says, “I am interested in the beauty and complexity of the brain, and in its ineffable, invisible, and precarious qualities.” The title, Every Force Evolves a Form, is a concept from physics that means exactly what it says. The force of looking results in an ambiguous and amorphous form that exists both physically, on the wall, and conceptually in the viewer’s brain allowing space for free exploration and an unrestricted imagination.
Taney Roniger’s work is firmly rooted in observation and analysis. Her current Inscape Series is based on careful study of bifurcation patterns like the of branching forms of trees, root systems or the human vascular system to computer-generated images such as cellular automata and other scientific schemata. Each composition of the Inscape Series begins with a set of three simple bifurcated lines of dots rendered as punctures in museum board and either painted or rubbed with graphite powder. When repeated numerous times, rotated at various angles, and overlaid on each other these basic units form complex compositions that wander across and through the picture plane. Roniger writes, “In working closely with fractal archetypes: the family of irregular geometric forms that occur across all scales and domains of existence, I find both a deep connection with the natural world and a means of gaining insight into the structure of consciousness.”