Visual Arts

Red Drawings and White Cut-Outs: Intensity and Opacity Hang Side-by-Side at Moody Gallery

In the book Red Drawings and White Cut-Outs, James Drake's text accompaniment to the exhibition currently showing at Moody Gallery, the juxtaposition of blood-red ink stained onto large sheets of paper and works sculpted into white paper is referred to by author and Whitney Museum of American Art curator Carter E. Foster as "optical opposites." The intense red, made even more so by the fact that the color outlines full nudes, leaves nothing to the imagination, whereas the white cut-outs create "shifting forms your eye must work to find."

Though merged together in one book and placed alternately alongside each other on the gallery walls, the exhibition is meant to be taken separately; the Red Drawings Pieces were started in 1995, and the White Cut-Outs pieces were made from 2008 to 2011,

The subjects in Red Drawings, though publicly exposed, are intensely personal. "Seated Man (Adam)," a full-size nude hung next to the equally naked "Seated Woman (Eve)," is drawn from a man he once knew, as is "Two Women," drawn for his mother. Red Drawings was inspired after Drake came upon a self-portrait depicting his imagined suicide: the bloody mess left over from his art-rendered shot to the head.

Using an X-Acto blade, Drake has carved out images for White Cut-Outs, such as "Pink Chandelier," a hanging light fixture tinged in a blushing pink hue, from sheets of white paper. By contrast, "Red Chandelier," which hangs to the former's left, is its sinfully rouged fraternal sister. The side-by-side paintings best display those "opposites" described by Foster; "Pink Chandelier" is paler than "Red Chandelier". However, instead of lessening White Cut-Outs significance, it strengthens the exhibit in that you spend more time looking at and deciphering it.

Then there is the "Glass Tongues" installation, consisting of 35 glass tongues of various sizes, shapes and stances poking up from the gallery floor. It's not certain whether they are part of the red or white portion of the exhibit. They are made of clear glass, so they are void of any color, linking them to White Cut-Outs. On the other hand, they are of different sizes, which leads you to ponder if some aren't human, and the fact that they stick up from the wooden floor is very in-your-face, hence, Red Drawings. Either or, the installation is sure to get tongues wagging. Get it? Red Drawings and White Cut-Outs will be on view until October 8.

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Altamese Osborne
Contact: Altamese Osborne