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Arsenic and Old Lace

Mark Flood gets pretty, and Vik Muniz reproduces

Muniz's work on view at Lawing Gallery is stronger: a series of iconic Monet haystacks via Vik. What appear to be hugely pixilated large-scale reproductions are in fact collages of Pantone color swatches. Squint your eyes and the tiny squares blur into very close approximations of the originals, in the same way that closely laid strokes of color optically melded together in impressionist paintings. What's more, the collages are reproductions made with the raw material of reproduction. The universal Pantone color system is used as a printing standard; Muniz scans images of the original and translates it into the large-scale pixels, and the software identifies the requisite Pantone color.

But the strongest works are Muniz's large- and small-scale versions of Rembrandt's images of beggars. Rembrandt's purposeful marks are copied with small arrangements of straight pins, staples, wire, needles, paper clips and nails that are then photographed and blown up. Where there was crosshatching, Muniz has stacked layers of pins and nails. The optical trickery is witty and satisfying -- the vivacity and strength of Rembrandt's line expressed through banal hardware fragments.

Mark Flood's smart-ass friends have dubbed his new body of work "Spinster Abstraction."
Mixture Contemporary Art
Mark Flood's smart-ass friends have dubbed his new body of work "Spinster Abstraction."

There is something impossibly strange about how images of impoverished people -- dead for almost 400 years now -- became classic images of art history and are now reproduced in bent staples on a gallery wall. It's a bizarre chain of events that started out with a guy trying to get money to eat one day. Something similar could be said for Flood's work: A lace tablecloth somebody's grandma carefully tatted wound up at Value Village when it was too frayed and stained. Now it has risen phoenixlike to mark its elaborate network of threads on a magenta canvas that will wind up in some collector's living room. It's like an art food chain.

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