Puntar's A Moment Too Soon (2006)
Americans are famously materialistic so it's no surprise that American art
has a long tradition of material fetish as carrier of information, although
it certainly popular in other countries as well. Be it John Chamberland's crumpled
cars, Warhol's Gold Marilyn, Carl Andre's bricks, Jeff Koon's vacuum cleaners,
Damien Hirst's carcasses, Dieter Roth's chocolate, Yves Klein's blue pigment,
Matthew Barney's Tapioca, Tara Donovan's stacks of cups the material is the
engine that drives or at least directs the message.
More recently artists like Roxy Paine, David
or Curtis Fairman have all presented strong bodies of work exploring
paint, mirrors and the world of store-bought plastic as well. Locally we have
Chandra Bocci, Jacqueline Ehlis, Jesse Hayward, Brenden Clenaghen etc., the list is never-ending.
To this list lets add Diana Puntar at small
, it's he last day of her show and her materials are decidedly
Her favorite material is plywood, used in a way mid-century design fanatics
will be very comfortable with. From Frank Lloyd Wright to Charles and Ray Eames
it is as synonymous with modern furniture as metal tubing and glass. In step with
the fetish Puntar often laminates mirrors to the plywood as well. This all relates back to a time when the future wasn't quite as complicated (save for Earth's annihilation
by nuclear weapons).
The extensive use of mirrored plywood slats also serialize space with facets
while evoking sputnik era satellite design. It's slightly Alvar
Aalto but no where near as refined
and some of the plywood edges wouldn't
have made his grade. Still, this isn't furniture and instead of architecture
should be compared with early sci fi set design. Puntar's work is more Doctor
Who and Logan's
than the elegant curves of Aalto.
In works like "A Moment Too Soon," the campy suspension of futuristic
disbelief is ripe for the taking. The circular slatted and mirrored pedestal
is sprouting a slightly sparkly green organic structure that reassembles a seed
case and an organic satellite dish.
Is this some alien invasion or has Verner
's camp melded with an Eames-ish aesthetic? The effect is humorous
tension that reminds me of the best Dr.
, a futuristic world of robots that look suspiciously like garbage
cans. The camp comes full circle when the lights are turned off only to reveal
the object glows in the dark. The fact that I can see how the foam was carved
and not "grown" only furthers the sense of sci fi set design.
Last Thing I Remember (2006)
Other works like "The Last Thing I Remember" leave no doubt that
this is an ode to B-grade sci-fi dialog, but to what end? I'm geeky enough to
connect it to shows like Space 1999 or Jason
of Star Command
but is this just pandering to the other Paul Allen's of
Untitled (lights on and off)
I liked the back room better as the gimmicky fluorescent paint gag had more
complete darkness. I also preferred it because the show's title piece, "An Hour On The Sun" seemed to evoke an impossible enterprise. Although visually
less unique, the work's size was larger than a human as suited to the title's
task. At this point in the show I decided this wasn't just prop art. Still except
for the very weird "Untitled" the fluorescence seemed like a gimmick.
Somehow having glow in the dark rocks during the 70's in my toy collection made
this trick seem superfluous. It isn't Keith Sonnier and it doesn't have the
wonder of those cheesy mall stores where you can buy lava lamps.
In the end I felt like this work was still in transition. It was enjoyable
but it is no where near as funny or inventive as Curtis
but it has a similar type of appeal. It needs to embrace the stagecraft
of installation art and become as big a scene stealer as Shatner to really take
off. Right now this is just Chekhov
at the helm of this art "wessel."
Overall, if the material is cheese, serve it up in bigger slices.
small A projects
1430 SE Third
Portland, Oregon 97214