new-york

Patricia Johanson

Rosa Esman Gallery

The wit was flying high in Patricia Johanson’s show. Only a real nitpicking spoilsport wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Johanson does a subspecies of earthworks, what might be termed “natureworks.” The difference for Johanson is that (1) she must realize that when you make very big sculptures they end up being a form of architecture, and (2) function must surrender to form, which surrenders to use. In Johanson’s work, any naturally occurring form can be turned into a manmade structure with very little transformation from nature to culture. Her drawings simulate architectural plans which in most cases strike the viewer as pure whimsy. There is a pine needle for a suspension bridge, a venus fern for a ramp, a fungus as a staircase, and so on. The small, sometimes microscopic, biological forms are enlarged (in the mind, of course) to create cultural usables. This is to understand—and Johanson doesn’t

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