Critics’ Picks

Hans Bellmer, Love and Death, 1946, pencil and white gouache on tinted paper, 9 x 8".

Hans Bellmer, Love and Death, 1946, pencil and white gouache on tinted paper, 9 x 8".


“New York to London and Back – The Medium of Contingency”

Thomas Dane Gallery
3 & 11 Duke Street, St James's
January 18–March 5, 2011

This project is a collaboration between London’s Thomas Dane, New York’s Miguel Abreu, and London’s Urbanomic, an organization that addresses issues in contemporary philosophy and science in relation to art, with a particular focus on unpredictability, uncertainty, and provisional circumstances. The alliance has given rise to multiple forms: group show, public discussion, film screening, and publication. The exhibition builds on a concise array of gestures exploring ambiguity, incomplete narratives, and the nature of accumulated desire.

Contingency is used as a philosophical trope that purports to connect the works, all of which are ostensibly reliant on speculative networks of association. Significant in this regard is the appearance of a Hans Bellmer drawing, Love and Death, 1946, with its wisps of graphite evoking a sexual energy through an erotic impulse that relates to death. Pamela Rosenkranz also inserts an arresting piece, As One, 2010, a curved panel made up of hand-molded acrylic glass, which is marked with a trail of pigment that underscores the presence of the artist’s touch. As a base for this piece, Rosenkranz uses a second work, Firm Being (Stay Neutral), 2010, a common plastic water bottle filled with liquid pigment. These two pieces epitomize the nature of contingency in the show, as they are distinct works according to the checklist but are derived from the same material––pigment, which works as a conditional unifier. Additionally, a work by R. H. Quaytman, Spine, Chapter 20, 2010, implies a book form but is made of crushed glass and ink, referential to the written word but then distanced from the smooth pages through the shards of glass, seemingly pointing to the principle of speculative thought that exists just below the surface of this entire enterprise.