In person, Sarah Krepp’s paintings look very different than they do on a computer screen. Although this can be said of most artworks, in Krepp’s case the difference between image and reality is remarkable because it has everything to do with the compression of information by electronic and, to a lesser extent, photographic media. When viewed as reproductions, Krepp’s whirligig paintings appear dense and flat, like amped-up Chutes and Ladders game boards swathed in blaring hues of red, yellow and white. But up close, what’s striking about the work is its hairy three-dimensionality. Thick tufts of black thread are sewn or otherwise affixed to their surfaces as if bird’s nests, shredded tires or toupées have been crushed against them by a windstorm. Sometimes, sections of the canvas hang like torn flaps of skin.
Krepp deftly incorporates different types of measurement, documentation and industrial detritus in the form of wooden rulers, rolled-up book pages, scraps of printed information and unidentifiable bits of plastic hardware to the extent that these paintings can’t really be considered abstractions. They’re more like agglomerations that are, at times, a bit too literal in their mode of signification, as in the artist’s punning juxtaposition of the words “see” and “sea” in one painting. Such tendencies are completely absent in the grid of exquisite small-scale drawings installed in the rear gallery, which parse the paintings’ snarl of data into discrete tendrils of information. Here, poetic distillation wins out over sensory overload, and the work is so much better for it. (Claudine Isé)
Through April 14 at Roy Boyd Gallery, 739 N. Wells.