untitled Arrangement: Tom Holmes, Kyung-Me, Brandon Ndife, Christine Rebet, Julia Rommel at BUREAU
The exhibition title is borrowed from the paintings presented by Tom Holmes. Holmes’s reference to arrangements broadly stems from a set of categories that Holmes has used over many years to title works according to a kind of funerary index of urns, plots, reliquaries, or in this case floral arrangements. In one of these untitled Arrangements, Holmes paints an impressive rendering of colorful bell-like paper flowers, which bloom in a field of abstract gestures. In a second painting a vase of red angel’s trumpet sits next to a Tweety bird mug, their faint reflections echoing below. The blue-black surface of the table consumes most of the canvas as the image collapses into gesture towards its perimeter. Kyung-Me’s meticulous pen drawings depict placeless interiors void of inhabitants. These empty rooms are filled with ornate millwork and furnishings rendered in perspective, hatched and cross-hatched with intensity. The precise symmetry in Siamese VII is broken by a Victorian footstool bearing an embroidery of Elijah and the ravens, displaced as if a body hurriedly exited the scene. There is an eeriness– a sense of confinement in the work, the colorless vignette leading to an architectural maze with no clear exit.
Brandon Ndife’s sculptures feel primordial; muck sloshes at the edge of a cabinet drawer as tuber-appendages rise upwards from their bed of compost. The tidy wooden exterior houses a soil bed nearly bursting from its container. Though convincing as real, Ndife’s objects are made to mimic a seismic event, appearing crafted by the Earth or dredged from the sea. In Nantucket, wooden planks swell and crack as if inundated with saltwater, a vegetal growth emerges on its surface. These excavations hang as reminders, or warnings, of uncontrollable forces. In a film by Christine Rebet a metamorphosis plays out on screen: feet in sandals become claws, wings, hoofs, then mechanized; mountains rise and collapse, their trees throb like vascular systems. Rebet’s stopmotion animation follows a monk’s descent from a mountaintop to the sea, rendered in colorful ink drawings that capture the transformation of the landscape and spiritual transition of the monk. A voiceover narration, inspired by conversations with the philosopher Emanuele Coccia, ruminates on life’s transitive state. Accompanying the film are a series of ink drawings of related imagery, the sea, the mountains, the temple, static in comparison to the jittering screen. The images exist both in motion and in stasis, like our narrator’s envy of the caterpillar with its ability to pass from one existence to another without having to die. Julia Rommel’s canvases bear the history of their making. Their compositions are exhumed by the process, Rommel’s doing and undoing, folding and stapling, layer upon layer of gesso and paint. Hues bump against each other, delineated creases in the linen keep the pigment contained, a formal boundary drawn by a folded edge. In one work a thick off-white sheet of paint slides on its stretcher, the wooden corners exposed and painted to match. Bisected by a vertical crease, a field of peach washes over previous attempts at harmony; greens, blues and grays exposed at the canvas edge, innumerable paintings hidden underneath its final coat.