Anna Minx and Chris Smentkowski
February 22 through March 23, 2014
Curated by Aleta Lanier
Piling on, as a human process, suggests a sort of compulsion; a potentially incarcerating habit of constant resurfacing, a refusal to settle for what’s already here.In her relief paintings, Anna Minx piles on and mingles contemporary and ancient landscapes with suggestions of the corporeal, placing tactile drips, pools and peaks alongside hints of manicured fingertips and static bare tendons. The resulting shapes reach and push in self-contained momentum, paused like fossilized bodies of our oldest animals, resisting the confinement of an eternal cycle.
Chris Smentkowski’s work spans time materially and in the stories it implies. His ceramics are rolled and pounded into the soil behind his studio while wet clay, picking up odd bits of debris in the process. These collected bits are burnt out when fired, creating pocked impressions of dirt, and doubling the earth-memory of the clay. This sense of being earthbound is reconsidered in his paintings, which are inspired by memories of his travels through the Podhale region of southern Poland. Suggestive of an imagination wandering the woods, catching itself in branches, and an airy, bodiless freedom, they discount any assumption that we return wholly to the earth. These works together engage a particular psychology and aesthetic of confinement and liberation – animal and geologic, the young and the old, the living and the dead. Minx and Smentkowski create images and objects that we might be born knowing, or know before we die – a series of first and last images. Very old people, trees, and tectonic plates, and conversely, newborns, sprouts, and earthquakes – they don’t tell you everything they know, but you would listen if they did.