Erich Bollmann’s drawings at Shoshana Wayne Gallery insist on developing a relationship with a viewer. They are small, they are not framed; when I lean in to look, my breath touches the surface. This kind of intimacy is precious, without being precious; modest and interesting, rather than sweet.
The pages are wrinkled a bit and this makes me think of trust and even of confidence: the paper in this work is as much part of the subject as the medium is in any artwork, but here I am engaged by a completely different conversation than I would be with, say, Fabriano Rosaspina or another fine medium. Recognizing this, I see that I have been guided to my understanding exactly by Bollmann’s choice of paper – fancy paper I would simply not have noticed due to its aura as art, as artful.
The drawings show mundane objects floating in a visual field, overlaying these (in all but one of the drawings) are geometric renderings that appear to depict three-dimensional shapes, if rather open-ended ones. The mundane objects might be signifiers of objecthood: present are “wristwatch” and not wristwatches; in one drawing Bollmann calls out – and I see – generic snot, rather than more specific boogers; another is labelled “ferny” and accordingly does not depict identifiable ferns, etc.
These mundane objects (or generic representations thereof) that I mention above as “floating” in fact look more like wallpaper when I consider them in context with the geometry of the superimposed schematics, which try for volume. These “wallpaper” and the “volumes” must accommodate the very real (undeniable?) dimensionality of their support – the medium – wrinkled paper.
Considering now my experience looking, I am struck by the ability of these drawings to make me aware of my thinking, just as they subtly engage with my body.
A palpable intellectual tension arises in the rendering of specific items and generic instance, between “seeing” and “saying”, between signifier and signified; this tension and accompanying interest are compounded by the matter of physical space: what or who has it, where it is placed and how it is perceived.
I recall in the past thinking that language is key in Erich Bollmann’s work. His drawings and sculptures feel declarative – like statements – rather than impressionistic, and I see in my mind words lettered out when I look. His work does not avoid tonality, subtlety and emotion, in the sculptures especially these are to be found in the relationship of what is made, what is depicted, with their counterparts in the real world. Getting to the emotional possibility in Bollmann’s work is an intuitive journey – in the current drawings it might lead one from eggs to breakfast, from a wristwatch to the artist’s body, and from snot to my own interior. (Erich Bollmann’s sculptures are not present in this exhibition.)
Echo of Echo is curated by Shirly Tse and Marichris Ty. Echo of Echo will be on view through October 13.