REVIEW: Vincent Como at Western Exhibitions

16May07

The exhibition “In Praise of Darkness”, two small rooms worth of work by Chicago artist Vincent Como is my new touchstone for all the work that I like which is diabolically boring. Now, just because it’s boring doesn’t mean it’s bad. It means in this particular case that it’s quite good. Dangbitch, what?

What I mean is that, sometimes, work that is so deadpan looking, I mean, so incredibly lifeless in initial appearance is really just Playing Dead. It challenges the viewer to engage for the simple notion that one might get close and look deeper to see just what it is that they’re missing.

DarkĀ Matter

Unlike some purely formal formal formal work that features big void-ish fields of darkness, Como’s work is a little more nerdy. He relies less on imposing, sort-of emotional models of The Sublime and more on obsessive, organized concept in the physical making of the work. Interestingly, the result is very lush. The large piece on the south wall of the “Plus” gallery is an approximately 6 x 9 ft piece of paper covered in several layers of the blackest gouache you’ve ever seen. It makes mama think that gouache eats light. It’s is SO black, it almost makes you redefine your notion of black. It reminds me of the “Holocaust Void” at The Jewish Museum in Berlin, designed by Daniel Liebeskind, which is a vast triangular room that museum-goers are invited to enter, and have the door closed behind them. It is so far beyond dark in that room. If you don’t crap your pants out of claustrophobia your sense of bearing is sturdy enough and you can stay with it, the inky heaviness will engulf you in an incredible way. Such is the case with Como’s work.

On the back wall, there is a series (a large series) of small framed drawings. They features line drawings of picture frames, some ornate, some modern, each enclosing little boxes of blackness. I am not as crazy about these. Maybe I just don’t see a reason for such a number of them. It hurts me in my framing bill for one thing when I think the same idea, “context changes everything” could be stated less laboriously. They strike me as oddly charming in relation to the other work.

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There’s also the ink block- a roughly 5 inch square cube of dried Sumi ink on a shelf (which looks much more elegant in the gallery than in this image). The title gives away that the cube represents the empty space in Como’s head (or some such thing- and dear Baby JESUS, am I glad you didn’t cast it in the shape of your brain). I am deeply enamored with the ide of this block, as simple as it is. It’s a fantastically Borgesian object that begs one to imagine how far that clump of ink would disperse if confronted with water and illuminates the juicy metaphorical parallel concerning all of Thought. Hi, that’s not easy to do without being corny, right. Indeed it makes my brain hurt and tickle at the same time. How dirty.

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All in all, I think it’s a powerful exhibition, that I wish had more space. I really want to give Vincent Como a grant that allows him to blacken the HELL out of everything from here to 2009 and see what happens. I think he would handle that gorgeously.

-Hot Dog in a Slipknot



One Response to “REVIEW: Vincent Como at Western Exhibitions”

  1. Hi Hot Dog in a Slipknot….

    Thanks for the swell review. Wish I knew who you were!

    hugs and kisses,
    Western Ex


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