PRINT March 1997

Strip Search

IT’S ALREADY BEEN years since decorators caught up with the surface of David Ireland’s surfaces and started to fling mottled tints and dun glazings onto restaurant and condo walls. That’s why Ireland’s most ambitious and challenging work, the house at 500 Capp Street in San Francisco, looks more and more familiar—at least at first glance. This century-old building tells the difference between decor and art: the former is applied (as in “applied arts”), the latter is discovered. Consider Ireland a domestic archaeologist who, in the process of exposing the integuments of wall and floor, the shadows of sill and frame, the fastening trails of screws and nails, creates.

The work Ireland creates here is not initially “his.” Those stains and fissures he preserves by stopping his stripping here and continuing there, the blemishes and scorings he underscores—also darkens and refeatures—with resin

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