Three exhibitions at whitespace, Atlanta

By August 24, 2021

Installation view of Didi Dunphy, wishful thinking at whitespace. Courtesy the gallery and the artist.

At whitespace, an array of glittering colors and exquisite sensorial moments resound between three exhibitions from four artists currently on view. 

Just inside the entryway to the main gallery, a colorful maypole with a rainbow of streamers and pom poms greets visitors. Didi Dunphy’s solo exhibition, Wishful Thinking is delightful in its candy painted luster. The mash-up of playful iconography with sleek, industrial fabrication reads like a Lisa Frank sticker book meets Mies van der Rohe furniture. Beyond the polished materiality of Dunphy’s work, she also weaves in ideas referencing modernist principles of minimalism, surrealism, and pop culture through a blend of sculpture, print, and performance.  What looks like a piece of plexi-glass or metal of an other-worldly translucent orange and yellow is interrupted by three rectangular holes, a nod to the game of exquisite corpse, a Surrealist activity of dividing a sheet of paper and having individual participants draw sections of a body without seeing the corresponding portions, altogether creating a hodgepodge figure. Here Dunphy makes us that figure as we inspect ourselves through this minimalist abstraction of a modernist game. We are reaffirmed by Dunphy, “work hard, your dreams will come true” as a video piece continuously plays the performance of a sign spinner with several custom messages of positivity, whirling and flipping at speeds so fast they are barely legible. I get the feeling that these affirmations are directed towards Dunphy herself as well as viewers. The exhibition evokes a playground that is never used, or a monument to happiness in an empty corporate office park—spaces and objects that are meant to be enjoyed but have been polished to a point of immense totemic importance. 

Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art at the Hunter Museum through January 8th

Over in whitespec, Samuel Stabler’s, Real Estate Disputes features a sparse installation of three paintings, each rich in color and detail. Both the frames and gallery walls are painted bright neon colors to house the intricate works. The vibrant colors are like fireworks bursting, their sheer luminosity pulsating against a latticework of cut out paper. The depictions range from a few figures riding motorcycles, posing with rifles, and nestled in a bevy of cut-out and delicately painted flowers. Between the figures and their background, Stabler’s work oscillates between a sense of the domestic and the natural. The neon is a bit off-putting when paired along the busy paintings showing off their own lustrous palette. As if emanating from the walls, the works call out for attention and scrutiny of its splendor. Despite these jarring neon and painted colors, Stabler’s work remains full of magnificence. 

In the two person exhibition Mimesis, Sarah Hobbs and Hannah Israel have turned the small shedspace gallery into a tinsel-covered shrine devoted to the color green. The strands of tinsel shimmer in the breeze of the garden while inside, a video cycles through images depicting green objects. These objects are at times familiar but poetic— other objects are completely transformed and made odd. Through this dissonance between the ubiquitous and the intimate, it becomes an ode to the color in all its glory. As Atlanta enjoy a lush tropical summer after a year in quarantine, a meditation on this verdant color feels especially pleasurable. 

Installation View of Mimesis.

An engagement between sickeningly sweet colors and neon chic visuals is happening right now at whitespace. All three shows have their own interpretation of dazzlingly saturated color, each with their own personal gravity pulling or pushing viewers depending on their disposition towards intense chroma. The resonance between these shows and their respective approaches to color and its magnitude present us with an optical symphony, an orchestra of color.

Didi Dunphy, Samuel Stabler, Sarah Hobbs + Hannah Israel are on view at whitespace thru September 4.

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