Unpublished review of “Site Lines” by Michael Friedman, editor and publisher of the literary magazine, “Shiny.”

Prior to viewing her installation, “Site Lines” in Boulder, I had been principally familiar with Jane Dalrymple-Hollo’s brightly colored, nostalgic Sonia Delaunay and Malevich – inspired abstractions.  This show, which took up the entirety of the long, narrow Nalanda Gallery at Naropa University, included work in that geometric mode (acrylic on canvas and on medium density fiberboard) as well as free-standing sculptures (acrylic on cardboard) that also suggested affinities with some of the early work of Frank Stella. In addition, the show included a mobile, playful box-like assemblages, painted curtains, and board games and pieces of the artist’s own invention.  Self-reflexive formal play and an exploration of compositional permutations have long been staples of the artist’s work.  The revelation of the show, however was her remarkable “Civil Discourse” series, a breakthrough work that suggested Dalrymple-Hollo has found her métier and come into her own as an artist of considerable wit and sophistication, not to mention impressive technical mastery.

“Civil Discourse” consisted of a haunting, mysterious series of large black and white photos: extreme close-ups of a dramatically lit dreamscape tableau.  On closer inspection, it became apparent that the tableau was comprised of impeccably arranged, small-scale wooden, plastic, and glass found-objects of geometric interest – finials, knobs, lighting diffusion panels, toothpaste and bottle caps – in many cases painted bright white.  In an interesting move that served to call further attention to the mediated quality of the images on the wall, the artist placed the actual tableau used for the photos on display in a Plexiglas case in the middle of the room.  “Civil Discourse” has a sly, conceptual aspect that is very of the moment.  The piece brought to mind a de Chirico dreamscape as it might be executed by Thomas Demand or Laurie Simmons, artists known for their spooky, outsized photos of scale models and figures. 

The presentation of the images seemed particularly smart: the photos were printed on Xerox paper and tacked to the wall – an offhand approach reminiscent of the “throw-away” esthetic of the influential conceptual artist Felix Gonzales-Torres.  “Civil Discourse” also shows the artist to be something of a poet of the everyday.  Since she lists Duchamp as an influence, I guess that shouldn’t come as a big surprise.  Dalrymple-Hollo seems to have an abiding interest in the transformative moment that occurs when objects we normally take for granted – a toothpaste cap, for example – are taken out of context and examined more closely, and turn out to possess unexpected complexity and not a little beauty. 

                                                                                                --- Michael Friedman