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Friday, September 4, 2009

Short... But Suggestive

Roger Lee's "Short... But Sweet" show is already down (he wasn't kidding about that title), but I had the good fortune to catch the opening. His work on display actually made the word "opening" function as a double entendre -- the biomorphic ceramic forms often had elements that suggested orifices. Though constructed from the hard carapace of fired clay, the forms give the illusion of something soft, pliant, organic.

The sculptures play with a sexual syntax, though their taxonomy is ambiguous enough to suggest a wider array of function than reproduction and seduction. The pendulous droop, the soft acquiescence to gravity, forms a parabolic link between earlobe and breast.

The sculptures reference bodies, but not the major, public appendages -- they root in the nooks and crannies, or at least the overlooked details that buttress the more noticeable superstructures. An elbow, for instance, would be too social, too obvious, to suggest -- the wrinkled fold on the other side of an elbow, however, would be right up Roger's alley.

The opposite side of the elbow is called the antecubital area. Roger's work plumbs a vocabulary that is only used by specialists of the body. The philtrum, the canthus, the frenum.

The non-ceramic materials have the luxuriance of fetish apparel. The velvet, rubber or nylon elements frame and support the ceramic the way a high-heeled shoe might support a perfectly manicured foot.

And at the same time, there's something very fresh and toylike about the work. While I was at the opening, a father walked in with his young daughter, who was delighted to find that she was allowed to push one of the sculptures (pictured below), making it sway back and forth against its nylon anchors, swinging its heavy red uvula in counterpoint.

"It dances!" she exclaimed, with an enthusiasm that rendered the most scrotal of the sculptures as innocent as a bellybutton.

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