Annual Art Reviews Compilation
Thinking Creatively with Pictures
@ Clifton Benevento, New York
http://cliftonbenevento.com/exhibition/sofia-leiby —- Seven humanly sized canvases smeared with watercolors and pastels demarcated by silk screen appropriations from various creativity tests hang past a ‘…for dummies’ video. Scratch pads uninterested in painting or mark making as a history but as a form of running away. A fear built around doubt for one’s hand, Leiby does not venture to be a case study herself but copies others’ hands on the white canvas. Informed by their enlarged pixellated lines of handwriting and scribblings, her own doodle-coverings fill in or obscure demoting the artist to simply coloring in. A creativity exam scaffolded through the anonymous examinees of Leiby’s design muddles an understanding of the artist’s intentions. She goes without making a mark herself perhaps to avoid strained Abstract Expressionism conjuring and leaning more towards an unwieldily adult coloring book. Spending more time with the paintings they begin to feel left to the margins of the video found to the left of the bookshelf. The video shows another’s hand directed in making marks, not in replication of the artist’s but perhaps for the artist’s use. The sense gained is developing methods of cheating rather than developing a test-taking strategy. Though tired of inventive hanging methods for paintings, this lonely painting on the bookshelf reveals what the artist’s mind is most captivated by - books, words, illustrations. Leiby is an artist not concerned with expression by means of making but of a construction to be designed and executed. Discovered in its totality not through the making but through conception the paintings were completed before the canvas was ever stretched. One difficulty found beyond the pleasing color, is whether this is a satire on originality and creativity or the interests displayed to be received in sincerity. Finding comfort in composing, Leiby cheats herself of a painterly method which is possibly an out dated conversation but leaves many paintings unsatisfying without this trial, not able to reach beyond the show’s supporting concept. It is up to the viewer to concede their own wants of exploratory inventions to such a divisive restraint.