Women’s Work at L’Inconnue: Luanne Martineau, Anne Low and Olga Abeleva
April 18 – June 8, 2019
By JAMES D. CAMPBELL
“Here is a moment of extravagant beauty: I drink it liquid from the shells of my hands and almost all of it runs sparkling through my fingers: but beauty is like that, it is a fraction of a second, quickness of a flash and then immediately it escapes.”
– Clarice Lispector, A Breath of Life 
The latest in a long line of exemplary exhibitions at this gallery includes the works of three artists who are resolutely pushing the boundaries of contemporary art from craft-based practices into the realm of the intra-psychic exotic and beyond. Luanne Martineau, Anne Low and Olga Abeleva offer self-questioning artefacts that demonstrate a high level of formal invention in felted wool, woven fibre, and painting on canvas.
Luanne Martineau is a maverick whose felted wool sculpture is nothing short of revelatory – and, frankly, captivating. Like pungent pelts or domestic taxidermies, her dimensional wall-mounted works possess an unusual gravity that question Modernist orthodoxies while remaining artefactually arresting and strange. Using traditional craft techniques and materials to eminently experimental ends, and hyper-cathecting the tactual, as it were, she seeks to subvert, interrogate and change the condition of being here.
Martineau’s work is a highly sophisticated, sometimes rude intervention. The artist works with obsolete manufacturing technologies for fabricating textiles and uses an antiquated knitting machine to produce her cutting-edge work. Her creations here are knowingly louche, referential and anthropomorphized. It’s no surprise that she admires Philip Guston for his famous late period pirouette from late Modernism into the realm of the cartoon and critique. Her hybrid felted wool sculptures mark a collision between Moderrnist ideals and a craft aesthetic in which the latter is shown to be synonymous with the former, save for an enhanced spirit of criticality as refreshing as it is overdue. She mixes and matches cultural references with flagrant and scandalous abandon, cunning and satiric gravitas. From her avatars Linda Benglis, Eva Hesse and Hannah Hoch to Philip Guston and Robert Crumb, she has learned much, but there are no closed quotation marks here. Her work exists without any enervating echoes.
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Fall Carcade, 2019
Hand needle-felted and hand dyed wool,
linen, synthetic thread, acrylic paint, archival adhesive, archival ink
47 × 27 × 3 inches