Featuring both screen-prints and sculptures, Pennsylvania native Nicholas Gottlund’s “Always” is a sixth-generation printmaker and publisher’s examination of the nature of reproduction. The seven large-scale screen-prints that dominate the diminutive space are enlargements from the pages of Gottlund’s 2013 self-published book “Printing Always Printing,” which is itself comprised of images culled from H. Winslow Fegley’s 1972 photo-essay on the Pennsylvania Dutch titled “Farming, Always Farming.”
There’s a welcome, almost aggressive, physicality to these pieces. “Printing Always Printing (Scarecrow),” owing to the sheer size of its halftone pattern, forces the viewer to step almost outside of the gallery to see the picture completely resolve. It’s an effective gesture, but one that’s rapidly consumed. Eventually I found myself just listlessly staring at black dots on tan Bristol board, trying to tease out something significant. In the exhibition brochure, Gottlund expresses genuine feeling and sensitivity for the pastoral landscape of his ancestors. Sadly, little of that feeling translates to the actual prints. In this case, the idea of reproducing reproductions of reproductions makes for stimulating conversation, but not for particularly stirring art.
Gottlund’s sculptures, on the other hand, are much stronger. Called “Spanners,” these slim and colorful rectangles trace the gallery’s periphery referencing the color bars used in the proofing process. Unlike the relative speed of the screenprints, the “Spanners” resonate at a much deeper level. Echoing everything from Anne Truitt’s seductive proto-minimalism to the ribbons festooned upon the breast of a soldier in dress uniform, these book cloth and aluminum sculptures literally exist in the margins; seeming to empathize with those who do as well. (Alan Pocaro)
Through July 26 at Paris London Hong Kong, 845 West Washington.