Peter Barrett and Sarah Hicks are neatly paired in Thomas Robertello Gallery’s “Taxonomies.” Barrett’s drawings—a kind of genomic take on classic Op-art—suck you into a depthless vortex of optic play, while Hicks’ sculptures spit you back out into three dimensions, recasting Barrett’s building-block compositions into an assembly line for mutant domestic objects.
Barrett’s four and six-sided acrylic and pencil drawings are comprised of tiny individual components, each of which, like DNA, contains the code for the overall composition. Countless tiny squares or triangles shaded in hues of varying density coalesce into larger pulsating cubes, pyramids, and whirling masses—often all three at once. Strangely, these optical tricks aren’t as palpable in person as they are online, where the hidden dimensionality of Barrett’s work quite literally leaps out at you. Although Barrett’s work sometimes veers too closely in the direction of novelty wrapping paper, at its best it maintains a low-level visual hum that verges on the synaesthetic.
Hicks’ ceramic sculptures favor the rounded forms of contemporary “blob” architecture and product design made famous by Greg Lynn and Karim Rashid, respectively. Working from molds of mass-produced household items, Hicks rearticulates the disparate parts, chop-shop style, and assembles them into vaguely familiar yet ultimately unidentifiable objects with pimpled surfaces and bulbous protuberances. Many of Hicks’ small-scaled works are displayed on a mirrored table, revealing their normally hidden undersides.
Hicks’ objects also mirror the concerns of Barrett’s drawings: whereas Barrett creates the illusion of depth through forceful alignments of repeated geometric forms, Hicks extends her sculptures’ physical volume into the realm of images. Both artists’ decision to revisit classic representational issues of depth and illusion makes sense, given that so much of what we now think of as space—be it social, architectural, urban or domestic—is designed and takes place on flat computer screens. (Claudine Isé)
Through August 1st at Thomas Robertello Gallery, 939 West Randolph Street