'The Shape of Things' | The S.P.A.C.E. Gallery | Shows | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


'The Shape of Things'

When: July 1-Aug. 6 2022

‘The Shape of Things’ The S.P.A.C.E. Gallery in Burlington is typically packed to the gills with a large group show. This time, gallery director Christy Mitchell took a different tack. “The Shape of Things” features just four artists: Kevin Donegan, Will Patlove, Frank Tamasi and Haley Fenn. But even in a show that is “simply about shape,” this quartet provides plenty to contemplate. Donegan’s installation takes up much of the gallery’s largest room. He writes in an artist statement that it is meant “to create an environment which feels ominous and potentially dangerous, but also beautiful and serene.” Using found and repurposed materials, Donegan largely succeeds — especially with the danger part. Outward-pointing nails are dominant features of three wall-hung discs, which he calls “mandalas, and of “Gathering Storm,” cloud shapes in wood suspended from the ceiling. Below them, blue-painted wood is attached perpendicularly to adjacent walls at about thigh level; Donegan says it represents rising water. He offsets the sense of doom with humorous appropriated street signs, such as one that reads, “No looking from here to corner,” set into a baking sheet. Patlove’s acrylic-on-wood wall pieces are elegant exercises in geometry and sometimes optical trickery. In “Outgoing,” for example, blue, black and green stripes on white board fan to the right in a way that plays with our sense of perspective. Tamasi’s rectilinear paintings illustrate the endless possibilities of geometric abstraction and harmonies of hue. In the aptly titled “Immersed,” dark shades pull the viewer in several layers deep, while assertive yellow lines on the “surface” demand attention. Fenn’s approach to contrast is far gentler. In a piece actually titled “Contrast,” she presents convex and concave hemispheres embedded side by side in a rectangle of molding medium. Fenn enhances their lunar appearance with the delicate application of shadows in diaphanous lavender paint. In concert with the shadows made by gallery lighting, these “moons” constantly shift in their perceived forms. An exhibition purely about shape turns out to be shape-shifting.