Tiempo Fragmentado: Loreto Greve at Cleveland Print Room
Capping Loreto Greve’s three month-long artist residency at Cleveland Print Room as part of the Cleveland Foundation’s ongoing Creative Fusion Program, Tiempo Fragmentado is an exhibit of photographs, photograms, drawings and prints, all produced during Greve’s stay here. Photographs were processed on site at the Print Room, several lithographs were made under the direction of Karen Beckwith at the Cleveland Institute of Art. She also worked at Zygote Press, and at several area elementary schools. The exhibit is on view November 11 through 23, 2016.
Meditating on time, place, identity and motion, Greve’s tachistic works build dynamic abstract compositions with a variety of mark-making techniques, exploring boundaries between mediums and disciplines. Hand-made lines echo naturally occurring shapes, chemical reactions mimic intention, and everywhere Greve conveys a feeling of contact and the ambivalence of traces – the impressions and physical legacies left behind by motion. How close can an artist bring herself or her audience to that potentially passionate scene, which is the image that she makes through gesture or photochemical process? How can a sense of urgency arise which can move the pictorial object closer to the realities it represents? Pursuing a sense of intimate motion through the thickness of a work of art, is part of the psychology of process shared by observer and artist alike.
Ideas and facts of art production like these are among the main subjects of Greve’s work, which at the Cleveland Print Room range all the way from small ink drawings to a brief black and white film projected on the back wall, in which the intertwining stalks of weeds perform a thrusting twilit dance. Blown by gusts of wind, the tall autumn husks of ironweed and milkweed gather in quickly shifting, crisscrossing linear clumps. They push across a mown path as if to question boundaries and cross perceptual, cognitive gaps. Greve uses dream-like repeated moments as time-sequence units, abstracted from any story-telling foreground. The images can be read as explorations of line, a kind of non-representational drawings or accumulations of line in a sketchbook – but brought to life, and part way back to the night where they were filmed. The power and mystery of line and all that it carries, as demarcation and signifier, evoking the flow of hair or nap of fur, the grain of wood or the eternity of form, dances for us in the field. At one moment, Greve interposes an infinitesimally brief shot of the moon and a passing airplane – sealing the vision with a transcendent knot, like a spell.
Photograms are made without a camera, exposing objects in a darkroom against photo-sensitive paper. As a technique it suits Loreto Greve’s overall project particularly well, using time to stop time, taking apart the seconds to find the breathing surface of the moment. A photogram is a permanent shadow, but also an imprint, like a footprint or the dent in a pillow left by a child’s head. It records not so much the image of a thing as its presence, and its absence. Greve uses a dandelion in several works here – pliant and fragile, imagined at the few moments when it disperses seeds into the air. Greve increases the graphic drama by scattering drops of chemical fixer into the blackness of the exposed paper – now a night sky, sown with new stars. Meditating on impermanence and fecundity, Greve’s X ray-like images suggest a timeless state where the innate transience of identity speaks in immortal phrases of light.
One of Greve’s own favorites in the show is a very small “Grafismos,” an India ink drawing less than three inches tall, splashed on a piece of etching paper. Narrower at the bottom, rectangular in shape, it leans slightly to the right. A feathery splash of ink rides just off the top, and a curving splatter like a bent needle tends outward, just below the blot’s overhanging brow. Showing it to me, Greve smiles, “It reminds me of a hummingbird.”
But most of her work here, including her lithographs, don’t lend themselves to figurative interpretation. Her studies of clouds, for instance, attend to questions of how extensive and varied the natural world actually is, always aware of the uneasy infinities implied by language. And the strange intersecting lozenge and bean shapes spread loosely in her stone lithographs speak of processes like erosion and abrasion, evading any association with familiar things as they engage more fundamental stages of perception. The viewer encounters a sense of touch, and as her show’s title implies the uneven, fragmented passage of time, breaking apart on images or wearing through the resistance of physical dimensions. As an artist who situates herself between hand-made and mechanical methods, Loreto Greve converses with nature in syllables and tones that bring worlds of time and texture close, until they fall against the interpreting mind.
Tiempo Fragmentado: Works of Loreto Greve
Cleveland Print Room
November 11 – 23, 2016