Visual Arts Program

Saturday, March 20, 2004 — Saturday, April 24, 2004

Gareth Donnelly

Presented at:

The medium is painting. The open question is one of translation: what is lost and/or gained through the application of painterly gestures at radically dissimilar scales? Is there a minimum scale required to establish meaning? Is there an exaggerated scale that, once reached, confounds meaning? Or does meaning reside comfortably at each extreme?
For the final exhibition period at the Tri-Main Center, Hallwalls’ visual arts program reverts to a familiar form with new paintings by Australian artist Gareth Donnelly and Buffalo artist Tom Holt. In a collision of extremes, the work of Donnelly and Holt will share the exhibition space while approaching it from substantively distinct positions.
Donnelly’s works operate at a scale that is quixotically small—so small, in fact, that an initial impulse toward the work might question their sincerity, as though they were the latest in a long line of modern art gags. The knowledge that Donnelly has occasionally sliced wood off a matchstick, stretched canvas upon it, and painted is not necessarily helpful. It may be the elaborate angle to the gag.
Where Donnelly reduces his work to the “uttermost limit of visibility,” Tom Holt’s site-specific mural is applied with strokes that are intentionally broad. His drawings are realized predominately in the street medium of spraypaint and arguably ballooned beyond a necessary scale. Holt’s approach to scale is omnivorous, the buoyant cousin to graffiti taggers, constrained in scale only because a given wall comes to an end.
Looming in the background is the giant specter of painting's history.
But this is more than David sitting down with Goliath to "discuss the
problems," or David believing that the story will always end the same
way. Is Gareth Donnelly an “absorbed hobbyist”? Is Tom Holt an “absorbed skateboard punk?” Are they losing or gain through their intentional reductions and inflations?


Gareth Donnelly
Matchstick Painting, 2001
acrylic on canvas, 1 mm x 1mm (back view)

Gareth Donnelly
Matchstick Painting, 2001
acrylic on canvas
1 mm x 1mm

Some publications related to this event:
March, April and May, 2004 - 2004

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Laylah Ali
Paintings and Drawings

Laylah Ali's work explores power dynamics and interpersonal conflict through compositions that position culturally, racially and sexually ambiguous figures in precarious, loaded, and unexpectedly humorous situations. Ali uses concise—even minimal—imagery that is specific in rendering and intent. While there are narratives in Ali's work, they are stories whose open spaces often give them the atmosphere of fables.