New York

Doree Albritton

“Out of the Woods,” an installation of recent works by Doree Albritton, focuses on the interaction between wall pieces and freestanding sculptures. All the forms clearly refer to nature; no two shapes are exactly alike. The title of the installation might allude to going deep into a mysterious world in order to bring back discoveries. Despite the emphasis on nature here, the entire room actually functioned like a theatrical setting, one in which all the elements seemed ready to spring to life. Albritton creates strange hybrid objects made of rich, sensuous materials; they populated the room, appearing on the walls at different heights, as if a cyclone had come through and catapulted everything in different directions. Most of the pieces on the floor consist of freestanding branches made by hand. With their “skins” made up of barely decipherable handwritten words, these pieces seem like evidence of human intrusion into a natural environment. Visually they are almost forbidding, standing out in stark contrast to the inviting surfaces of the other objects.

What stands out most clearly is Albritton’s impressive command of materials. This is best demonstrated by her large leaflike wall pieces. These coarse sheaths look as though they were peeled off from ancient trees. In Embarking, 1988, the hard, earthen-colored surface shows a refined graphic quality, with its veiny ridges and complex network of lines. Relief elements are accentuated by a dusting of various pigments—gray, white, and flesh tone. This lends a deceptive fragility to the revealed interior surface, which contrasts with the obvious solidity of the supporting shape. Albritton presents us with an image of organic development arrested at a particular moment in time.

In Darkwood, 1988, Albritton uses tactile materials—wire, wax, paper, and pigment—to create a highly sexualized form. From the bottom of the shape, lips and folds close around a tight base, then dramatically rise up, expand, and unfold to reveal a series of deeply engrained marks. Etched lines are covered with a layer of black, brown, and silver tones. Aumm, 1988, has a buildup of creamy wax on the outside of its shell-like form. Folds curl in tightly at the bottom, only to open at the top as though the piece were shedding a cocoon. The work’s fossilized look implies a past lived history.

One could imagine Albritton taking her fabrications of nature even further. What exists here is a set of intriguing forms that manage to claim their own territory in space. Overall, they created a sense of lyrical biomorphic motion along the walls and throughout the space.

Jude Schwendenwien