‘Spieltrieb’ at Jack Hanley Gallery, New York — BLOUIN ARTINFO

BLOUIN ARTINFO, 01.18.2018

Jack Hanley Gallery in New York is hosting “Spieltrieb,” a group exhibition featuring works by Polly Apfelbaum, Beverly Fishman, Ryan Mrozowski and Kathleen Ryan.

“Spieltrieb” is a German expression that can be translated as “play-drive,” the “urge to play” or “play impulse.” In “On the Aesthetic Education of Man” (1794), German poet and philosopher Friedrich Schiller described “Spieltrieb” as the ideal union of “Formtrieb” (the form impulse) and “Stofftrieb” (the sense impulse). In his theory, the sense impulse equals life, whereas the form impulse equates with shape and therefore denotes the object of “Spieltrieb” as the living shape which for him is synonymous with beauty.

All works in the show combine these components, formal and sensuous, with a game element, playfulness, inviting viewers to engage with their associations. In Kathleen Ryan’s sculpture, unyielding materials undulate on the gallery’s floor, calling to mind a shiny beaded necklace consisting of chains connecting heavy bowling balls. The object’s past becomes visible through their owner’s engraved names and finger holes. In a play with levity and gravity, industrial materials and elegance, Ryan merges contrasts in formal sensuality. A similar play with opposites becomes evident in the works of Beverly Fishman. The titles of her wall reliefs “Untitled (a+b)” and “Untitled (double/pain)” reveal a formula to her seemingly sleek abstract compositions. Based on shapes and colors of prescription drugs and various medication like Prozac, Vicodin or Xanax, Fishman’s wall reliefs and works on paper suddenly possess a much darker quality that, despite and because of their bright colors, reference the current opioid addiction crisis.

Polly Apfelbaum’s installation of suspended terra-cotta shapes colored with textile spray is based on the American tradition of the seven-shape note system. The shape notes, a musical notation system developed in the beginning of the 19th century, have commonly been used in music schools to facilitate music notations through visual associations. Her accompanying wall-bound mount holding paint brushes with terra-cotta beads further convey the viewer’s synesthesia within an entanglement of sound, color and shapes. Ryan Mrozowski sculptural paintings are comprises individually shaped and stretched frames and canvases. The individual small stretched paintings within its wooden frame are configured like a puzzle replicating photographs taken of loosely tossed and folded textiles.

The exhibition will on view from January 4 through February 5, 2018, at Jack Hanley Gallery, 327 Broome Street, New York, 10002