Friday, January 31, 2014

Van Brakle at MPA

Last summer I encountered a selection of then-recent work by Jessica Van Brakle, in the hallway gallery (can't remember the real name) at the McLean Project For the Arts in McLean, Virginia. Van Brakle is a DC-based artist, and former Hamiltonian fellow; and I really got something from this work.

What I like about it is how successful they are at being tactile. I think, most of the time, work is allowed leverage when its theme or concept ends up gripping people. That's certainly apparent here, and probably the case with Van Brakle. Yet for the first time, I saw both the physical sensation and the narrative theme clearly employed together.

As an educator, I would find it ideal if the whole spectrum of viewers -- to Van Brakle's exhibit for instance -- could instantly detect, and sense, what the shapes, patterns and tactile texture in her acrylic paintings on canvas are doing (as you can't help but notice all that white she left).

Work comes from, and gets reintegrated, through experience of the body; it's not just image and its subsequent currency in meaning. Is anyone still reading Susan Sontag? To pass up that whole sphere of imagination and experience would be a sad, gloomy thing.