“A big part of my work, in both words and images, is the juxtaposition of disparate parts, so that new meanings can be constructed from the simple, ordinary, familiar, or mundane.” — Mary Lum.
Mary Lum‘s exhibition of small collages at Yancey Richardson Gallery is a jewel of masterful manipulation of material and imagery by an artist with a keen sense of intuition for both. Lum’s colorful and structured compositions read like precious origami in various stages of unfold — each composition revealing a harmonious juxtaposition of the artist’s own dissected photographs, opaque acrylic paint, drawings and occasional comic fragments.
Lum arranges these elements with razor-sharp precision and each jagged edge, each sloping curvature, each kaleidoscope of places aligns perfectly within the compact space the size of the iPad screen. What makes each work interesting is the evidence of process. Not just the accumulation of objects for each work, but the apparent additive and subtractive processes in regards to each element and composition. Look closer and you will see radiating lines of previous layers that scar her surfaces. This is where the artist works through and finally establishes the sequence and the story for each collage.
It would probably be safe to assume that the collages in the current exhibition are likewise a projection of the artist’s emotional attachment, interpretation and recollection of the interiors and exteriors — places she references in her titles. New Yorkers will, of course recognize the beloved orange-red tiles of the 49th street subway stop in Manhattan, that are the focus point of Lum’s Neighborhood. Or the angular topography of Manhattan’s Upper West Side and the recognizable white tiles facing the residential apartment buildings built in the 60’s Lum references in Westside. The artist’s range of media in each collage can be seen as a reference to the multitude of surfaces and materials that comprise real-life urban environments she moves through.
Origins of Lum’s work lie, of course, in the principles of early 20th century art movements. Cubism, and its converging perspectives that exist simultaneously on a single two-dimensional space. Surrealism, and its novel approach to merging materials and surfaces, with artists like Guillaume Apollinaire, André Breton, André Masson and Max Ernst introducing the technique as one the new tools of communication for visual artists. Here too you will notice that the geometric nature of Lum’s work closely echoes the works of the Russian Constructivists: Kasimir Malevich, Nikolay Suetin, El Lissitzky and Natalia Goncharova.
The collages are currently on display at the gallery’s booth at Miami Project and the gallery’s Chelsea location. They are very well priced and a great starting point for any young collector.
Images in this article © Mary Lum, Courtesy of the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.
This article © galleryIntell