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Schwartz, Chip. “Tristin Lowe at Fleisher/Ollman is Stellar.” The Artblog. May 29, 2011..
Tristin Lowe at Fleisher/Ollman is Stellar
By chip schwartz | May 20, 2011
It is always refreshing to find an artist with a body of
work that is as solid as it is diverse. At Fleisher/Ollman’s
May exhibition Voyeur, Tristin Lowe proves that he is
just such an artist – working in mediums as divergent
as cell phone photography, felt sculptures, and glowing
neon lights. Lowe’s explorations range from abstractions
on a personal level to images of cosmic proportion, and
he does so with an unabashed, yet accessible amount of
curiosity and humanism.
Near the entryway, and throughout the show, hang
a multitude of large – between two and four foot –
photographic prints. They are heavily abstracted, and
glow with strong highlights and shades of red and
pink. It takes quite a bit of analysis (and maybe even
an explanation from the artist) to determine that
the subjects are close-up images of hands in various
contortions. The images are very inviting and comforting
to look at and their soft qualities are due in part to the
fact that they were captured by a simple cell phone
camera. They exude human warmth even without the
knowledge of their source and contain undertones of
the womb, of sexual embrace (appropriately part of the
“Handjob” series), and of vitality in general.
Complemented by the hues of the photos, and
illuminating the entire show, is the radiant centerpiece:
a huge, three-dimensional comet constructed from
twisting, red neon tubes. It is 10 feet long, and the focal
point of the show in both placement and magnitude.
When asked why he chose a comet, Lowe began a
lengthy barrage of images and anecdotes, making it clear
that his seemingly disconnected works and thought
processes were actually quite scientific, while at the same
time rather associative. From the very Carl Sagan-like
assertion that we are made from star dust, to the visual
similarities between comets and sperm cells, the life of
the photos, the energy of the neon tubes, and the cosmic
themes all begin to fall into place.
Lowe’s felt pieces serve as the midpoint, at times
both soft and celestial. While not all of the objects fit as
neatly into these categories, for instance a door or a pair
of jeans, most have obvious parallels: a relief sculpture
Comet: God Particle, 120 x 32 x 32 inches, neon/glass/aluminum
of the moon hanging high on the wall, a meteorite
pockmarked with craters, and a pair of binoculars. The
novelty of seeing these items made from fabric (with the
exception of the jeans) highlights Lowe’s quirky humor.
Where the visual play doesn’t quite fit, he tailors his
wordplay to make the themes snug. The pants, entitled:
Genes: Standard Model, introduces the biological tie-in
which brings the show thematically full circle.
An artist this engaging for so many reasons is a rare
find. Tristin Lowe’s show is smart, funny, and varied; it
asks big questions about who we are and where we come
from in a multitude of pertinent ways, but it does so with
a wry charm. Microcosmic as well as stellar, this show is
pretty nearby for being so out of this world.
1616 Walnut Street, Suite 100, Philadelphia, PA 19103 / tel 215.545.7562
fa x 215.545.6140 /