To admirers of Argentine artist León Ferrari's intensive, hands-on drawings, prints, sculptures, and collages, this show of small photographs of his sculptures taken in his studio must have been something of a surprise. Sharp, shiny, black-and-white analog pictures, they render the art they capture quite theatrical in a film-noir sense, imbuing the images a kind of sexiness and aura of mystery.
The 23 unique abstract and semi-abstract vintage gelatin-silver prints that were on view here, from the 1970s and 1980s, established interior relationships among the intersecting black shadows and white channels of emptiness, suggesting tensions and reconciliations. Ultimately, the photos, as if mimicking Ferrari's drawings by employing the lens as stylus, offered both less and more to meet the eye, describing rather than sharing the intimacy of hands-on work.
Ferrari (1920-2013), known internationally for his social and political critiques, is probably better known in the United States for his compulsive, calligraphic drawings and for his sculptures composed of intertwining iron rods. Like Brazilian modernist artist Mira Schendel, Ferrari made works in which writing and drawing are two sides of the same coin, and where drawn lines serve as codes and symbols on the one hand and as expressive marks on the other.
BARBARA A. MACADAM