Critics’ Picks

View of “Warm for Your Form,” 2012.

Portland

Bobbi Woods

Fourteen30 Contemporary
1501 SW Market Street
May 25 - July 15

Los Angeles–based artist Bobbi Woods’s most recent works on paper possess the muted sheen of an old mirror or a weathered scrap of industrial metal. Akin to the eighteenth-century Claude glass (a small black mirror often used by painters to create picturesque abstractions of landscapes), the surfaces of these compelling works reflect and transform their surroundings into ghostly, lugubrious visions.

The works’ skins are, in fact, chrome, and close inspection reveals that the enamel paint has been sprayed on American film posters—often on their flip sides, with the letters registering in reverse, a gesture that further complicates the works’ interiority. Hovering on top of these fields are seemingly random arrangements of delicate handprints. Though it isn’t obvious, these are the traces of the artist’s body, translucent impressions of her hands’ natural oils revealed like a hidden code when the chrome is applied to the paper.

These quiet works share a kinship with cameraless photographs; the images of the artist’s hands are “developed” through a chemical reaction. The pieces neither cohere as representation nor dissolve into pure abstraction. Moreover, the handprints are a liminal scrim, a conduit between the viewer’s amorphous reflection and the imagined interior of the work. While many notable artists such as Robert Morris and Urs Fischer have used mirrors to expand the reach of the object, Woods’s exploration of space and subjectivity is more cinematic. These works are closer to time portals, evoking the scene in Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950) when the protagonist steps into his own dark reflection and into the realm of Hades.