New York

Jonathan Adolphe

Bess Cutler Gallery

Like the codes Jonathan Adolphe uses to signal his oblique messages, the works shown here are at once full and evocative, and oddly impoverished. Using flags, sign language, braille, written English, and a cryptogram composed of stick figures of dancing men (invented by Arthur Conan Doyle for Sherlock Holmes to decipher), the artist spells out messages on half-painted, rectangular boards. Strips of lead have been sunk into the center of these so that some elements can be stamped directly into the work rather than painted onto it. The pieces seem like bits of flotsam, not just because the boards have a weathered look, but because the words on them form such fragile expressions, pleas, names, and half-heard phrases. They suggest that this is all that has survived from the wreckage of some life.

Several pieces, such as Kill Me and Fly, House Wife Poor No Friend, and Skin Pain (all works, 1989)

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