Critics’ Picks

Left: Lauren Clay, Wavy Window, 2018, oil on paper pulp and plaster on panel, 50“ x 30” x 6". Right: Jaime Bull, Raft of Medusa, 2018, sequins, glitter, prom dresses, tube tops, spandex, rhinestones, velour, foam.


Jamie Bull and Lauren Clay

137 Mobile Ave. NE
April 7–May 13

There is a distinct pleasure in the materials, color, and play of perception in “Porthole Portico,” an exhibition whose title pairs two unlikely architectural elements to describe the work of Jaime Bull and Lauren Clay. Opulence is evident in both artists’ work and in its placement here in Atlanta’s new house gallery. Enter the vestibule, and Wavy Petit Trianon (all works 2018), Clay’s site-specific marbled wallpaper complements the gray checkerboard floor and picture window, highlighting the architecture of the space. Directly below the crystal chandelier is Bull’s strange silver-foam sculpture, Sea Princess. Part ship hull, part fish fin, the work, plopped as it is in the middle of the floor, alters the domestic view, charging every element in its orbit with an uncanny humor.
The exhibition gets looser in the larger gallery space, which acts more like a proper white cube than a home. Neither artist’s work seems to behave in the manner of Clay’s wall installation Wavy Colonnade, again marbled wallpaper, which features woozy, arched forms leaning into deep space. Bull’s Raft of the Medusa—a large foam sculpture clumsily wrapped in fabric and adorned with ’80s prom dresses, glitter, rhinestones, and velour—recalls both a sea monster and a fabulously deranged lifeboat. Walk around Bull’s shipwreck of sparkling materials, and deep inside, a piece of foam is squeezed into a swimsuit, like some limbless, headless figure. Just as there’s a heady pleasure in the perceptual game of Clay’s wall works and in Bull’s sequined debris, there is also the looming hangover, a beautiful tragic mess.