Monday, August 20, 2007

Tatyana Schremko: The Target Gallery @ The Torpedo Factory

One of the great things we love about the Torpedo Factory is the Target Gallery located in the back room exhibit space. This afternoon, after admiring some black and white photographs, etchings, and other hanging media works by art students, we came upon Tatyana Schremko's "Echo in the Forest." Alien, spooky, inviting, and centering all at the same time, Schremko's lindenwood sculptures are five elongated and figurative works set facing each other amidst watchful, mounted paper reliefs. Lindenwood has incredible natural beauty, especially when buffed and properly preserved, the circular aged wood rings suddenly take on the form of movement, clothing, or cellular unity. It's easy to understand Schremko's desire to elongate and simplify the shapes of these five beings, strikingly feminine, strikingly knowing, yet all at once receptive. Schremko seems to be looking at spirits in a wooded setting; she's exploring light, sound, and shadows moving whisperingly in community. The piece entitled "Tango" especially exemplifies and personifies this mystical feel as the base is carefully spooned out to mirror arched back skeletal form. In the base, do we see legs, a flowing gown, a mermaid's fins, tree roots, or something more? Definitely the feel of movement, wisdom, the roughness of bark, and the beauty within all trees, all nature, all women, all beings. It came as a jolt though, to learn that Schremko also equates the works with the plight of women in countries plagued by war. Oh no. This is another feeling entirely. We took a few minutes, shifted into the anti-war mode, and looked again. We moved into the epicenter of the circular mass and stood. Stood still for a long time. Listened. Waited. (Hey, are these things SAYING something?) There was something oppressing, something ever present, a gaunt thin starved woman moving on the road perhaps. Traveling. For a long time. Years of resigned pain, yet compelling from every angle. So it was a bit difficult to reconcile these two themes - forest people and war - their commonality and their opposition, and perhaps it is just this Schremko is successfully exploring. Opposition. No true Art Addict ever devalues art or the time, money, strength, and fortitude it takes to MAKE art. So, we sauntered on over to the price list. Shremko will take in $36,500 if each sculpture is to decide which one....and how to reconcile the pricing with the theme of war plagued individuals....couldn't our $7,500 for one statue go to a more direct relief cause, if in fact this is at the core of Shremko's expression? But we digress. The display is haunting. I suspect the photos in Schremko's portfolio don't do near the justice she deserves for the incredible physical effort she must have expended. Ever try moving a 7'3" hunk of work (see "Shadow")? Our only other criticisms center around the base panels (uninspired), the absence of any visual effect in the center of the circle (leaves or water maybe?), and the absence of any of Schremko's bronzed pieces (we wanted to cry). Kudos to Gregory R. Staley for a gorgeous promo card photo. Prayerful is our final analysis. Schremko's show runs 10/5 - 11/6. Go see it, you'll be in a light fog for a few hours after.