New York

Hollis Sigler

Gladstone/Villani Gallery

Frames—the ambiguous area between art and the world, separating the two and binding them together. As an artist you either accept the frame as manifest destiny, territorial imperative, a container, or you play with it. But you cannot eliminate it, for it just returns in another disguise. The frame is the tenacious constant.

In Hollis Sigler’s They Always Get You Where You Live, a cat walks “across” one of the frames. Frames in Sigler’s drawings are prefaces for serious play. They aren’t just there; they’re elaborated and broadened, nearly part of the image, being made of the same pictorial and actual (Craypas) material. First there is a (wooden?) frame, thin and colored over. Next comes a large area of framing that gives the impression of both breathless velocity and vertiginous frozen movement—smeared, sliding color spectrums, slowly dragged into a continuous circling pattern of framing, sucking the viewer into the central image, with its distorted areas of intense color. The frames take us inward to a make-believe world, a fiction several times removed from the outside through a looking glass of frames, into an image located within repeating registers of fiction and artifice.

There is a certain disorienting violence in this journey through a pictorial whirlpool. By the time one gets to the scene, the action has just finished, run away. Every image is the debris of a climax. In After the Wild Times, the remainder echoes only half-familiarly and the distortions of the frames of imagination take over: childishly rendered lawn chairs, mock-Henry Moore tacky motel lamps with holes, a white bathroom cabinet with gold filigree scribble, plastic mold cafeteria chairs, luggage thrown open like a treasure chest with the contents removed before we could have seen what was inside. To Look and Unfind You is mostly red, a high-pitched red, at an emotional level easy to dislike—expressionistic and hysterical. But I like it because such fierce feeling embodied in such a small image juggles contrary effects in a startlingly extreme way that I can respect.

I’d Like To Smash Her Face—women beating? No. How odd but how right to learn that Sigler is a woman. It’s not obvious from the work alone, and the information opens up the drawings to other feelings, gives them a different flavor. The rivalry and jealousy between women rather than between man and woman makes the drawings more claustrophobic than they would have been. Two of the same close the emotional circuit within the identity of sex. A pitcher flies across a bedroom through an open window toward a mirror on an ornate, feminine vanity, The images seems remembered, left over from girlhood, from a child’s fantasy of the inanimate become animate, and of every abandonment as vicious and traumatic. Things are in flight—hands across a room, wolves (men?) blur past in the background, through patio doors. Things have flown—like the electric green lump of a Hawaiian shirt tossed onto the floor. Invisible ghosts inhabit these empty rooms littered with reminders of humans’ fragile presence, invested with unspoken feelings. Each room has just been abandoned, as if the inhabitants had been chased out. Objects fly and subjects flee—two motions reverberating within Sigler’s perversely distorted perspectives which make interiors advance too quickly and recede at a dizzying rate.

Frame—vortex circling in on the image, a boundary reached by moving outward from the center. Does one read an artist’s boundaries from the center outward (entropic, expansive, disintegrating) or inward, from the edge, moving inexorably toward dead center? Abstract shapes often must be read the first way—expansive, toward the limit, measured. The shapes are unfixed, airy, light. But the second method is a screw tightened, a movement under tension, somewhat frightening, gravitating toward the center as a vice grip, an open hand forming the knot of a fist.

Jeff Perone