An array of pointy, planar sculptures draws visitors into the big, bright room. Composed of triangles and rectangles cut from birch plywood, dipped in blackboard paint, and joined with piano hinges, the works stimulate an odd sense of companionability. The human scale (the largest components are between 1.2 and 1.8 meters in height or length) and the casual way they're installed invite interaction.

 

New Knowledge (2006)

baltic birch, piano hinges, chalkboard paint

one of four, dimensions variable

 

 

 

There's a sense of standing shoulder to shoulder with these odd and elegant shapes. Individually and collectively titled New Knowledge, they were produced by Victoria based artist Lucy Pullen. She is also exhibiting a small but eclectic range of photographs, drawings and miniature figurative sculptures, along with familiar objects (such as an electric guitar) dressed in reflective fabric with conspicuous zippers. All are on view at the Republic Gallery. Located on the third floor of an old building at 732 Richards Street, up two flights of steep and narrow stairs, Republic is in the process of revealing an ambitious program of smart art across a range of media.

New Knowledge (2006)

baltic birch, piano hinges, chalkboard paint

three of four, dimensions variable

 
    Pullen's hinged sculptures and architectural drawings are the result of a six-week residency she undertook in Los Angeles last summer. In a recent conversation with the Straight, she spoke of her work as a direct response to the studio building in which she was then living and working. She also alluded to the contingent nature of her art: the six freestanding works here comprise two variations each of three different combinations of components -what Pullen calls "unique multiples". Folded up, each sculpture resembles a large, unopened envelope. In this form, the works can lean against the wall, like paintings. The dip into blackboard paint expands the painting idea, bringing together evocations of school (learning, pedagogy, theory) and the history of abstraction.

Production Still (2006)

photograph of the studio

18 x 24 inches

 
 

The unfolding of the works, Pullen explains, is a form of "new knowledge". The many ways in which the conjoined triangular and rectangular forms can be configured -up, down, in, out, with acute or obtuse angles -suggest an improvised architecture mated with a flock of origami birds. Extended wings and pointy legs consort with notions of lean-tos, tents, and tepees. This sculpture riff on the rigors of 1960s minimalism and serialsm, with added notes on modular construction and the built environment.Like many of her contemporaries, Pullen messes with materials, forms and the ways in which we perceive and process art. Flipping between the second and third dimension and wrapped in reflective material, her works seem to occupy an uncertain or precarious space.

 

New Knowledge (2006)

baltic birch, piano hinges, chalkboard paint

three of four, dimensions variable

 

 

 

 

 

Some of this uncertainty is expressed in Production Still, a trans mounted digital photograph that initially challenges our ability to decipher it. Eventually, we can make out what appears to be the lower part of a panel, dripping silvery liquid into a gutter some centimeters below. Reflected in the wet surface of this apparent painting -wobbly and mirage like -are aspects of Pull en' studio and equipment. Between that image and the gutter, there are glimpses of the floor and the black foot of one of her sculptures, and we're projected again into an ambiguous space.

Robin Laurence

review appeared in the The Georgia Straight, January 18 - 25, 2007