Sulzer Setting Her Own Paper Trail
by Taryn Plumb
When we see paper hanging on a wall in a gallery, we expect nothing less than perfect; stains, dimpling, buckling, rips or wrinkles all seem like faults.
But this is where Andrea Sulzer challenges the conventional; the Brunswick, Maine artist purposely manipulates and exploits paper to its very limits, transforming it from a flat, formless and blank canvas for other ideas and materials into its very own unexpected and complex 3-D sculpture. Her most recent creations, inspired by both experimentation and improvisation, are on display in “throughoutsideways” at the Portland Museum of Art through August 24. The show is part of the museum’s ongoing “Circa” exhibitions, featuring the work of local living artists.
The solo exhibit showcases a range of pieces that defy the traditional rules of paper. In “Night Flight,” for example, acrylic paint and sumi ink bubble, crinkle, pucker and drip in a black dense form on gampi, a thin, sheer Japanese paper. The piece, which seems to hint at a haunted, ghostly figure with hollow white eyes and a ghastly grin, appears to roil and boil off the wall.
The giant wall piece, “Last Glimpse,” is a lighter and more colorful exploration. The bulk of it, what appears as a huge mass of blank paper, is actually densely applied white pencil strokes that were then buffed; as you walk around it you can see the light playing off its sheen. Its bottom, by contrast, is a crumpled chaos of color that threatens to roll up on the emptiness above — the hues swirl, overlap, blend, mix and clash.