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“RAUCOUS” at Lyndon House Arts Center, Athens

Installation view of RAUCOUS showing paintings by Vivian Liddell (left) and sculptures by Jaime Bull (foreground and back wall). (All images courtesy Lyndon House Arts Center.)

The group exhibition RAUCOUS brings together five artists who employ improvisation and bold gestures in paintings, drawings, and sculptures that are rife with bodily references and visual play.  The exhibition spans two galleries at the Lyndon House Arts Center in Athens, Georgia, each of which is anchored by large sculptures. In Jaime Bull’s sculpture Susan Louise Lola Kelly Ann, belts and glittering fabric bind together giant pancake slabs of foam rubber.  A set of foam and fabric oars are festooned on a nearby wall, their pendulous phallic forms appearing to stretch out under their own weight.  Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen come to mind as precursors to Bull’s approach to oversized sculpture, but they lack her distinctive thrift store aesthetic and penchant for spandex and sequins. 

An agglomeration of stuffed pillow forms, fake fur, false plants, and an alligator head, Kelly Boehmer’s sculpture Puppy falls somewhere between a topiary sculpture and a puppet from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.  Boehmer sews small pillows together to make larger forms resembling stalagmites or the proliferating pods of Yayoi Kusama’s installations.  She achieves some of Kusama’s anxious tension in Fingers Crossed, a sculpture installed adjacent to Puppy.  Two giant sausage fingers sag over the edge of a square pedestal.  They are stuffed semi-transparent plastic, and smaller fingerling pillows are visible within them . The large fingers split at their knuckles, white fur spilling out from inside.

In a group exhibition in Athens, Georgia, five artists pursue visual play and witty abstraction through bold gestures and bodily references.
Installation view of RAUCOUS showing paintings by Erin McIntosh (left), a painting by Christina Foard (back wall), and sculptures by Kelly Boehmer.

RAUCOUS is a word that conjures up noise and rowdiness, qualities embodied by the cavorting male figures in Vivian Liddell’s paintings. The hairy nude tailgaters in paintings such as Man, Leaping are semi-abstract, reminiscent of Phillip Guston’s partial figures or the swimmers in Nicole Eisenmann’s work. There are quiet moments as well in RAUCOUS.  Erin McIntosh employs Matisse-like shapes and colors in her non-objective paintings. She stacks her forms up in a shallow space that rises in front of us like very dense vegetation.

Color is maximal and turbocharged throughout the exhibition, and compositions are highly active and dynamic.  There are almost no straight lines or hard angles anywhere to be found; everything is curved or slightly wobbly. Forms are floppy and biomorphic:  bending, sagging, slumping, bulging, or floating. The relentless organic quality of the forms in this exhibition pushes away from the built world and draws us into a bodily, subjective one.

Christina Foard’s deft, witty paintings offer the greatest surprise.  Nipple Theater and the game of Phones depicts a table-top still life, a motif that Foard frequently uses. The painting is full of planes comprised of scrapes or concentric lines.  Her color choices are thoughtful and thoroughly mixed—nothing is coming straight out of the tube here. Strange complementary relationships pop up on the edges of unexpected forms.  Her tottering space reminds me of Wayne Thiebaud’s vertiginous cityscapes, where parts slide away or tip forward unexpectedly. To one side of the table, a group of (hopefully) latex nipples are laid out, perhaps drying on a cloth. Next to them, nipple-topped bottles for feeding and/or pumping are arranged.  Quotidian household objects become a site for abstraction while also showing an evening at home with chores and HBO.


RAUCOUS is on view at the Lyndon House Arts Center in Athens, Georgia, through August 3.

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