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Rocks, Rivers & Polystyrene The Sculptures of Jacci Den Hartog and Jaime Scholnick

By Lorraine Heitzman

T

hese are not sculptures that wear the hefty cloak of masculine ambition or the genteel politeness of earlier generations. They are neither academic nor didactic. They are definitely not timid. Instead, Jacci Den Hartog and Jaime Scholnick challenge our notions of interior, exterior, natural, and urban landscapes. Den Hartog examines the geologic forces of nature in isolated tableaux and seeks to provoke an emotional and kinesthetic response, whereas Scholnick celebrates and castigates the surplus of industry and our urban landscape to a more political end. Both artists approach sculpture by embracing contradictions to examine and critique our environment. There is a subtle humor in this approach: materials, scale, and contexts are at odds with their subjects, and the viewer is engaged on many levels. Their work may be bold, but at the same time there is a subtlety behind the brilliant hues.

Fountain , Jaime Scholnick, acrylic and flashe on polystyrene J aime

Scholnick’s early polystyrene sculptures were modular totems assembled from molded Styrofoam shapes commonly used in packaging; they were predominately white and painted with black outlines reminiscent of the work of Jean Dubuffet. The sculptures appear elementally solid, but her use of disposable and lightweight materials belies this appearance. These pieces exhibit a sense of quirkiness because the materials are recognizable, yet transformed, unconstrained by the practical purpose for which they were originally intended. They were simple sculptures but in hindsight, precursors of more complex work to come. A Los Angeles native, Scholnick earned her MFA from Claremont Graduate University. Beginning with figurative sculpture, and gravitating towards mixed media, Scholnick was influenced by the work of Richard Tuttle

and the artists of the Arte Povera movement, an Italian art movement of the late 1960’s to the early 70’s. Both influences emphasized the discarded beauty of repurposed common materials, a sensibility that forms the basis of her sculptural work. Scholnick’s current work includes densely layered sculptures, paintings, and collages. While her most recent show at CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, Mowing the Lawn, represents her response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, her work has always contained political elements. Her earlier solo show at CB1 in 2014, Redesigned, Repurposed, Re-everythinged, may be less overtly political, but it is nevertheless an indictment of our consumerist culture’s appetites. As Scholnick states, “I accept the material for what it is. This is our society.” Through her sculpture, Scholnick immortalizes our consumerism in a sort of time capsule that seeks to explain the human condition. She celebrates and elevates the ingeniousness and beauty of her materials even as she highlights our disposable culture.

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ARMSEYE Magazine Fall 2015  

ARMSEYE is an international artist-run quarterly publication based in Los Angeles, CA. We are focused on engaging with local and interna...

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