Sculptor Greg Mencoff and photographer Andrew Witkin make a meditative pair at Clifford-Smith Gallery. Both make art of great simplicity, and great simplicity is naturally beautiful.
Witkin shoots the light playing off his window shade. His work is in the same vein as another young area photographer, Morgan Cohen, who makes the quotidian - like the corner of a room - transcendental. Witkin transcends in his images, too, but without losing the scruffy, dusty reality of what we're looking at. The nylon shade has a tight, woven grid pattern that screams of mass-production.
''Textured Screen (05)'' shows the shade pressed up in the middle against a horizontal bar along the window frame. The passage of black it creates in the center gives way on either side to blue gray, and below it the sun casts a dirty yellow light through the shade. The shifts of light feel all the more poetic for passages like this: it isn't a black-and-white drama of shadow and sun, because when the sun pours through, it's sullied. With all their shades of gray, these photos are maps of subtle understanding.
Mencoff makes wall sculptures from wood and Japanese paper. He wedges the paper between two halves of each work. One untitled piece has two rectangles, one on top of the other, with a sliver of blue paper cutting across the middle. Hung at a relief from the wall, the piece casts a dramatic shadow, reiterating its clean lines.
For all the clarity of form, the paper sandwiched in the middle feels like a slit into another world, a moment of vulnerability amid the perfection. Another piece bellies off the wall, a convex white rectangle with ribbed backing. The paper across the middle is white, too, but a bluer white, and its edges don't entirely meet the edge of the wood. It's like an unexpected gasp in the middle of a perfectly orchestrated presentation.
That tension between paper and wood - made all the more effective because of a natural harmony between the two materials - creates small, focused works. Neither Witkin nor Mencoff will knock your socks off with color and size and layering the way Cooper does, but their works make good objects of contemplation.
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