DeCordova’s NE Biennial
Spacious, spare and well ordered, this year’s deCordova New England Biennial — assembled by Jennifer Gross, chief curator and deputy director of curatorial affairs and Sarah Montross, associate curator — glows with conceptual clarity. The 16 artists hail from across the region and bring together aesthetics as varied as their ages, genders, races and national origins.
While painting is the favored medium, the featured disciplines include poetry, dance, public art, sculpture, sound and video installation, books and photographic/ digital work. Even within the painting genre, we are exposed to conceptual, political, observational and surrealistic approaches, along with updated abstraction and minimalism./span>
Cary Smith’s reductive canvases, vibrating with pure primary and secondary hues, challenge our complacent eye. In “Stripe III,” three thick stripes of green, orange and blue are bounded by four narrow, colored strips that run around the edges of the painting. The clockwise impetus of their unequal visual weights sends the square canvas spinning like a top.
Preoccupied by spaces between, Craig Stockwell explores a private world by deconstructing and reconstructing forms. Along an end wall drifts a flock of small, fragmented paintings: among them interlocking pieces of painted plywood, a canvas on hinges leaning toward us, something like a mottled handgun, and what might be a colorfully striped air vent. These same shapes, colors and patterns have been sucked up by two large, flanking canvases whose unstretched boundaries suggest works still in progress. Within their frameworks, the smaller images, sometimes magnified, reversed or even partly obscured, make new and intimate connections. The result: a new crop of compositional possibilities and a revised sense of the value of those original elements.