"Kelley Devine: Unwhole" Offers an Intriguing Look at Body Parts

In entering the Nicole Longnecker Gallery for this exhibition -- "Kelley Devine: Unwhole" -- a viewer is exposed to a panoply of cyborgs, part human, part machine. That the human element here is a body fragment , not a complete body, perhaps makes it all the more ominous.

And yet enticing, for these sculptures have their own grace, their own elegance. Many of the machine parts are simply bicycle chains, but they take on a power of their own -perhaps the Tour de France should sponsor Devine, for the links here portray not speed but power, and the gripping uncertainty of the unknown.

There are so many sculptures that one is overwhelmed, and might wish for less, but I couldn't find any that I wouldn't miss - well, perhaps one, a collaboration involving a heart that seemed too literal, and out-of-character for Devine.

Connected and Disengaged has a hand and forearm, and branches like tendrils, mounted on a few books, one of which is Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451. It is the only one that seems tentative, exploring, in transition, perhaps growing.

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The others are quite definite. Son Beau Sport has part of a left torso and leg, and is very powerful, even brutal. Chain Driven Heart, black, has a back as though pedaling, and bike parts. Unattached has an appealing irregularity, slender at the bottom, tapering wider toward the top. It is of a fragment of a left leg, wide enough at its top to include a belly button. It is wonderful.

Devine has a softer side as well, and uses strips of fabrics to suggest this. Warm Heart has bronze-colored shoulders, from which hang multi-colored inch-wide fabric strips, of varying lengths. The colors here seem to be drab, as though the exterior of the woman was beautiful, but her sensibility less so. Happiness has green shoulders with descending fabrics, and Love has blue shoulders and fabrics, and brighter colors.

One of Devine's themes is that women and their sensuality strongly attract, but may pose danger as well. Resolute has fragments of female breasts, but sharp nails protrude from the underside. Her Achilles has silvery legs to knees, with again protruding nails. The woman here is also standing on nails, suggesting an understanding of some of the problems inherent in womanhood. Happy Hour is dark bronze, a left hand, with shards of beer bottle broken glass protruding from the rear. Women are not the only danger in the hunt for fulfillment.

Olivia is quite different in texture, with brutality here absent; it seems to reference a particular experience. There is a miniature suitcase, on miniature wheels, as though the artist had been abandoned by a woman. The colors are warmer, in the beige zone, and the suitcase is covered partially by $5 and $1 bills. A book is included, titled Women in Love, and the fragment of a female breast has an extension of a horn, perhaps signifying that infidelity has occurred. It is fascinating.

Kelley Devine: Unwhole continues through October 18, at Nicole Longnecker Gallery, 2625 Colquitt Street, openTuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., longnecker gallery.com

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Nicole Longnecker Gallery

2625 Colquitt St.
Houston, TX 77098

713-591-4997


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