New York

Daria Dorosh

Daria Dorosh’s new paintings can be discrete objects inviting analysis and criticism in their own right, but they were not entirely planned that way, and actually evolved through an interesting permutation of collaboration between this artist and four architects whom Dorosh asked to work with her. Three of the collaborations are formal and visual, and the other is conceptual and philosophical; all four are installations involving a painting and a three-dimensional object. Although each action followed its peculiar course, generally the projects included initial meetings between artist and architect to establish goals and objectives. Then the artist and her collaborators worked independently while trading sketches and phone calls. Each participant was diligent about exploring a potential relationship while maintaining an independence of activity and production. The results were probably somewhat surprising to all.

Several years ago Dorosh became interested in the relationships between the implied space in her abstract canvases and the real space of their existence and placement. She began cuing her abstractions to architectural details, fragments and furnishings; the selection of props often preceded and ultimately influenced the work. In seeking collaborative situations Dorosh has expanded her territory to less predictable domains of personal and esthetic interaction. The installations here were not ventures in harmony but unfolding dialogues. There were moments when each exchange was animated and engaging, as well as faltering impasses of communication.

Dorosh’s work with Harriet Balaran was the most lighthearted and witty joint venture, and perhaps the most spontaneous. Only in this collaboration was the painting, Johnson’s Back Porch, 1983, completed before the architect’s contribution, Lounge on Four Spheres, 1984. The installation was a variation of the decorator’s habit of matching the painting and the couch. Dorosh’s rich colors and layered application created a tactile contrast to the highly lacquered surfaces of Balaran’s delightful divan on bowling balls; the collaboration was one of arrangement rather than process. Elizabeth Diller and Dorosh investigated the theme of vantage point and vanishing point as a way to reconcile divergent styles and sensibilities. Diller’s mirror assemblage explores the dialectics of vision and obscurity, tension and suspension, with icy precision; Dorosh’s composite painting was hung next to Diller’s work, yet the connections between the two had to be taken on faith because they were not seen. The most successful collaboration was with Donna Robertson. Robertson’s brooding, formidable picket fence is attenuated to stockade proportions, and Dorosh’s Fence Painting, 1983, was hung on the wall beyond the fence. The painting compelled voyeurism while the fence’s mixed message attracted and repelled. Dorosh’s final collaboration involved the insertion of a small painting in Mary Pepchinski’s skillfully designed writing desk.

Ultimately Dorosh’s promising idea for this exhibition is more engaging than were the collaborative ventures themselves. The objective was a model in which artist and architect meet as equals, agree to address a shared concern, and then work independently on objects that will communicate alone and together. The common phenomenon of art being coopted to architectural scale and inspiration was challenged, but not entirely effectively. The structure and spirit of collaboration cannot avert analysis of the results, and the connections in these joint ventures proved either too remote or too simple. The exhibition did cogently raise the question of when an object, or two objects, constitute an environment and generate an atmosphere beyond the space they claim, and what are the critical factors of interdependence and autonomy in a generative collaboration. Dorosh’s noble goal of equality and the creative composition of singular entities forces a continued inquiry of the territories which art and architecture can cohabit. The questions intrigue in spite of the trial-and-error atmosphere.

Patricia C. Phillips