The emerging artist Dan Finsel initially developed his new body of work by performing exercises found in the 1974 book The Inward Journey/Art as Therapy for You. This work is on view now in his linguistically deconstructed show, E-Thay Inward-Yay Ourney-Jay. Although Finsel developed the works’ symbology through the exercises he performed, the aesthetics of the pieces show the influence – or at least an an awareness of – the 1970′s and psychology.
The show’s most striking and dominant piece is the first on view, a mural painted onto a pair of closet doors directly behind the gallery’s front desk. The wall-sized graphic, geometric pattern, appropriated from the cover of the source publication, is done in vibrant colors. It shifts the expectation from the standard painting on canvas or the like – standard for a gallery setting – and instead imbues the work into the physical space. As seen later in the exhibit, much of the work deals with the body in relation to forms or markings of some sort, so this is a fitting introductory piece.
Also on view in the front of the gallery is a a black and white photograph of a man seated before a table, a cord flowing from his mouth as he holds two cups. The image suggests a macabre bodily ejection or a bizarre injection of objects or unusual food. The cord seen here is the premier example of an aspect reoccurring through out the show, featured in ceramic pieces as well as a motif in paintings. The show’s strongest pieces show subjects whose bodies have been covered in patterns interacting with cords.
The ceramic pieces, components of greater sculptures, are not exclusively cords but also appear as sold cubes and cups, resting on furntiture-like pieces. The appearance of furniture evokes a subversive domestic feeling which again screws with the traditional ambience of the gallery space, compounded by the placement of the ceramics on the sculptural furniture instead of pedestals. While the psychological deconstruction of space is compelling, the sculpture Amily Fay Ulpture-Scay: Here-yay And-yay Ow Nay is the most interesting three-dimensional piece. A cord of clay weaves through a holed table, stimulating a conceptual continuity of the cord as a protrusive form, as well as creating a underlying connectivity of the cord and its surroundings.
The vivid paintings on view bring to mind a 1970′s sensibility, again with the cord as subject. Two of the paintings incorporate the same creased cord silhouette seen in the ceramic works. The mirroring of this silhouette re-inscribes the sense of a network of symbols. The painting Anala-may Ossibilities Pay (Other-may) shows the cord as concentric circles, suggesting the engrossing state of the tube in Finsel’s psyche.
The photographs are hung opposite the paintings, and while vastly different, they also hark back to the 1970′s, particularly reminiscent of counter cultural body painting. The subject of the photographs is a nude man whose body is covered in the same pattern used in the opening mural. He is seen interacting with the ceramic pieces, the cord seeping from his orifices or acting, like the sculptures, as a pedestal for them. The photographs are the show’s most vital works, incorporating the over-arching themes juxtaposing the bodily and festive elements.
The show offers work that is both stimulating in its novelty and the way it expresses and integrates its base concept. Furthermore, it demonstrates an emerging artist’s breadth of capability and his aptitude.
E-Thay Inward-Yay Ourney-Jay runs through April 20 at Richard Telles Fine Art, 7380 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles.