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REVIEW: Tactile/Textile at Chesterfield Gallery

Chesterfield Gallery was established in 2011 in Connecticut and spent six years there and in Northampton, Massachusetts. In 2016 the gallery moved to Manhattan’s Lower East Side where it focuses on emerging and mid-career international artists who use non-traditional techniques and approaches. The gallery’s primary focus is in sculpture and large scale installations. This summer Chesterfield Gallery presents Tactile/Textile a group exhibition showcasing works by J. Mikal Davis, London Kaye, Maureen Meyer, Ellannah Sadkin and Jason Tudor. While the approach and outcome of each artist varies greatly, the show comes together with each artist's exploration of textile materials.

J. Mikal Davis, the street artist formerly known as Hellbent takes his spray paints off the street and into the fine art world with his multi-layered and mind binding optical illusions. He uses spray paint and vibrant color to evoke layers of textile and fabric. Texture and pattern are flattened onto wood panels, yet his use of foreshortening in When Sun Hits (Slowdrive), 2015 makes the work pop out at the viewer. The use of textile design is reminiscent of the backgrounds of Kehinde Wiley’s portrait paintings.

In an even greater optical illusion, is Jason Tudor’s rhythmic compositions inspired by patterns found in nature and the universe. Tudor starts with freeform but intricate drawings and then puts them into the digital realm where he can grow the original designs through repetition, layering and mirroring. Viewing his works is like looking through a kaleidoscope, or a college dorm room’s walls covered in psychedelic tapestry. A interpretation of tapestry takes up the entire back wall of the gallery, huge and omnipresent, the symbol for peace made of crocheted yarn, by London Kaye. Kaye’s work is most often presented to the masses by placement outside - on street fences. Hopeful and colorful, her piece is playful yet carefully and elaborately constructed.

Like a few of the artists presented here, Maureen Meyer comes from a background in fashion and textile design. Clearly in awe of indigo, her paintings are achieved through experimentation with indigo and dye techniques. Light and its absence pulled me into the work which looks as though its made from photographic techniques, but isn’t at all. Who knew indigo and fabric could inspire such patterns? In the only sculptures in the show, Ellanah Sadkin explores a new medium based on her primary medium – painting. Using nylon, foam and fishing net, she creates large scale soft sculptures which are renderings of her colorful and playful paintings. Building a new series of work from an old one she manages to come up with something entirely new but clearly hers. I was not surprised to learn that Sadkin is heavily influenced by street graffiti and cartooning. At only twenty-six years old, Sadkin has held strongly onto her childhood enthusiasm for more playful forms of art.

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