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Universal Remote 

It's been widely speculated that artists are more likely to be dyslexic. Nobody knows why, but one of the more novel theories is that artists, especially sculptors, try harder to see around corners in the sense that they are constantly looking for the not always obvious connections and contexts that frame the world around us. If you are always literally or figuratively trying to see around corners to mentally bend the space around you, then it should come as no surprise if things start turning up out of sequence. A classic example of this was the old 20th century movement called cubism, which depicted people and places as if seen from several different angles at once.

Korean artist Keysook Geum is not a cubist by any means — her elaborate wire-mesh dress sculptures are so realistic that they could probably be worn as well as viewed — but they imply movement and space no less than Duchamp's classic proto-cubist painting Nude Descending a Staircase. Suspended in space yet embodying the female form, they convey a profoundly human presence while posing questions about the nature of social, aesthetic and personal connectedness.

A costume designer with a Ph.D. in textile studies, Geum uses beads, silk and wire mesh to create sculptural couture — fancy dresses inhabited by invisible women who seem to levitate in an unusual interplay of form and function, presence and absence, negative and positive space. Beads glisten like dew drops on spider webs in moonlight. They are regal and witchy. What is she up to?

A philosopher of couture, she melds contemporary notions of dressiness and connectedness with Eastern, especially Buddhist, ideas regarding the nature of reality. For instance, in the West the word 'empty" fairly unequivocally implies absence. It ain't there no more. But in Asian philosophy, emptiness can also mean potentiality, a field of dreams that can become something new. Asian emptiness is filled with energy just as Geum's sculptural fancy dresses are filled with the presence of unseen femmes, as we see in works such as Flow, Moving Legend or the provocatively titled Enlightenment. Here, rather than the empress wearing no clothes, the clothes contain no empress, bride or fashion model. But they carry on just fine without them.

Elizabeth Fox's new paintings — her best work to date — explore the psychic, social and physical spaces inhabited by svelte modern women going about their daily business. Rather than focusing on professional or domestic roles, Fox creates minimal if theatrical situations that explore the subtle or subliminal role of sexiness in modern life. In Mystery Train, a shapely woman in a severely cut but very close-fitting gray suit puts her briefcase on an overhead rack as rows of guys in gray power suits seem almost, but not quite, lost in their newspapers. The minimal treatment of space stresses the coolly impersonal nature of the situation, but the businesswoman's sexy form injects the unspoken intrigue of allure into an otherwise ordinary scene. Interestingly painted with few but sharply etched details, it's all rather dreamlike while illustrating how the machinations of money, and the irrational aspects of attraction, interact in a culture where things must be sexy, and sex is a thing or close to it.

In Fox's Wheels of Ambition triptych, a glamour girl wields the levers of power and gets caught up in the wheels of industry in a scene that recalls Fritz Lang's classic film Metropolis. Glamour Girl With Remote is like a latter-day update of those old Hollywood scenes where some sexy vixen in a Jean Harlow vein reclines on silk sheets with a box of chocolates, only here the glamour girl is relaxing at home with a universal remote. The digital home entertainment center is implicit.

click to enlarge D. Eric Bookhardt Elizabeth Fox's paintings such as Glamour Girl With Remote explore the interplay of attraction, connection and isolation in modern life.
  • D. Eric Bookhardt Elizabeth Fox's paintings such as Glamour Girl With Remote explore the interplay of attraction, connection and isolation in modern life.


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