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Francesca Pastine
Eleanor Harwood Gallery, San Francisco, California
Recommendation by DeWitt Cheng

Francesca Pastine, “Self Portrait,” 2017, gypsum board, wood, paint, Artforum magazines, modified gypsum plaster and wire, 19 x 16"

Continuing through February 25, 2017

On August 6, 2012, the robotic rover Curiosity landed in the Gale Crater of Mars after a nine-month, 350-million-mile trip from earth. NASA’s fourth Martian lander was named by a Kansas schoolgirl, who wrote in her winning contest submission, “Curiosity is an everlasting flame that burns in everyone’s mind ... Curiosity is the passion that drives us through our everyday lives.” Curiosity and passion are at the heart of art as well as science, parallel realms of research endangered by the new age of incuriosity.

Francesca Pastine’s trademark collages and assemblages, fabricated from Artforum magazines, balance aesthetic surprise with what might be called conceptual irony about art made from distressed art magazines. In “Curiosity," the Artforum magazines appear again, in five sculptures, but here combined with other materials — wood, wire and gypsum plaster, with the art-world commentary subordinated or submerged; as if the objects had been made with scavenged materials: ad-hoc bricolages. “Self-Portrait,“ which may refer to the Mars rover's selfies beamed back to earth, is a blank-faced portrait bust pierced by magazine-page ‘snakes’ that swim in and out of its rocklike skin. Pastine’s two “Curiosity Vessel” sculptures are stonelike slabs — magazine pages covered with plaster — that have been given perforated mylar sails of dubious seaworthiness. Also included are nine “Curiosity Vessel Landscape” watercolors on paper or panel, combining organic textures (probably resulting from decalcomania), abstract brushwork, symmetrical compositions, and prismatic palettes suggestive of otherworldly, Turneresque landscapes suffused by light.

Eleanor Harwood Gallery

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