New York

Lisa Sigal

Frederieke Taylor Gallery

During Lisa Sigal’s fourth solo exhibition at Frederieke Taylor Gallery, two walls of the main space appeared to have gaping holes, outlined in blue painter’s tape, that exposed stacks of wooden beams. In the back gallery, Sheetrock boards, painted light blue, framed what looked like an opening onto the building’s brick infrastructure. Initially suggesting an ill-timed gallery renovation, these details were in fact part of works on view (That Wood Piece [all works 2007] and Two Shades, respectively). The wooden beams were not underneath but screwed onto the wall, the brick merely a trompe l’oeil wallpaper pattern. Such slippages point to the most appealing aspect of Sigal’s artwork: the manner in which it conflates supposedly discrete categories—interior and exterior, “created” and “found,” painting and sculpture—in ways that almost cancel out the unique properties of each.

It is often their subtly illusionistic and painterly qualities that distinguish Sigal’s scrappy minimalist works from those by artists like Ian Pedigo and Gedi Sibony. While the latter artists’ sculptural forms are obstinately “thing”-like in their occupation of space (suggesting odd artifacts of a future civilization), Sigal’s tend to constitute spaces unto themselves, their surfaces blended with the architecture or resembling semiabstract landscapes that draw the viewer in. However, for this show, Sigal experimented with creating more autonomous objects and did so in ways that were promising but not yet formally achieved. The focus was “Tent Paintings,” 2007–, a series of works that comprises two related types: sheets of wallpaper covered with paint and newspaper clippings; and bulky, upright constructions made from the same materials that were partly adhered to the walls. Though their flimsiness seems largely intentional, it sometimes comes off as simply slapdash.

Untitled (Refuge), for example, is a shelterlike structure wrapped in floral-patterned wallpaper, the underside of which, as glimpsed through a large cutout, is covered with pasted-up newspaper articles and advertisements. The work, with its bold colors (primarily red, white, and blue) and perpendicular stripes of tape, looks almost like a mash-up of various flags—an international amalgamation matched by the interior, which features text in English, Mandarin, Korean, and Spanish. The work seems oriented toward politics, but while it hints at broad themes—capitalism and communism, globalization, the condition of being a nomad—the statements remain vague. Indeed, with its drooping walls and sloppily applied strips of tape, the work has little formal coherence, making any proposed meaning seem a projection.

Although they were exhibited in the office area, the seven works on paper—each of which has the word torn in its title (Torn Tarp, Torn Prop, Torn Hut)—were actually the strongest part of the show. In building up these “collage drawings,” Sigal layers scraps of variously textured fluorescent paper so that thin strips cut across color fields like power lines or highways, and multiple perspectives are compressed. Torn Tarp incorporates two photographs: One, veiled by translucent paper, depicts a bleak cityscape; the other depicts piles of debris covered by cobalt tarps that make for awkward structures reminiscent of those in the front room. Similar forms and colors cropped up throughout the exhibition, due in part to the collages’ status as studies for “Tent Paintings.” Despite their foundational nature, however, the collages seem to comprise a fully realized body of work—one that, given its restrained means, demonstrates a more acute handling of spatial and visual concerns than do the works to which they led.

Kyle Bentley