New York

Georgette Batlle, Nancy Siegel-Burson

Rina Gallery

Georgette Battle uses photographs of trucks in conjunction with silkscreened color as a referential base for abstraction. Her solid blocks of color accentuate the flatness already present in the frontality of her photographs. In Bills Doors, for example, the saturated reds laid over the three building doors and the rectangles of green and blue in the intervals in between insist on the planarity of the wall structure, while utilizing its form as a compositional armature. Other prints focus on the closed back doors of trucks which reiterate the flatness and rectilinearity of the paper surface. By showing the rear view of a truck, whether close up or in the distance, Baffle adds symbolic content to her formalized arrangement. Trucks imply a journey. By displaying only their back sides, Batlle hints at a journey already begun, at something gone, distanced from the viewer. This sense of nostalgia differs from that inherent in photography in its dependence on a particular image. For although Baffle uses photography as an image-maker, her process of silkscreening emphasizes the constructive facture of the work and, thus, cancels out the visual directness associated with photography. Process, in fact, is the title of one of her prints. Here four sequentially shifting views of a truck overlap in a metaphor of the additive buildup of the print. The progression of differently colored markings on the truck doors reinforces this reading of a constructive process. Yet despite Baffle’s obvious concern for formal values, it is the nostalgia of her imagery that prevails. The color structure becomes an overlay which remains separate from rather than intrinsic to the subject matter presented in the photographed image.

At first glance Nancy Siegel-Burson’s drawings appear to be about the process of their making. The paper is torn, folded back and often creased to delineate an internal opening which repeats the overall rectangular shape of the surface. This opening serves as a window onto another sheet of paper on which at times thick charcoal lines echo the edges of the torn paper frame. The drawings reflect back on themselves as a system of defining boundaries within boundaries, spaces within spaces. However, occasionally the charcoal gradations on the underlying paper intimate the possibility of imagery. The window frame then defines a stage and the tearing of the hole becomes merely a device for revealing the scenery behind. In other drawings Siegel-Burson presses a piece of creased paper underneath the surface to create a relief image similar to an intaglio print.

The paper used is then attached to the front of the drawing as the redefinition of the traces left by the pressing process. Although the means of fabrication are clearly readable, the intricate patterns of the crumpled paper draw one’s attention to the subtle interplay between the shadow of the image and its actuality. One concludes that Siegel-Burson’s interest lies more in the pictures made by her self-referential process of drawing than in facture as an end in itself.

Susan Heinemann