Pair: Alex Dodge & Glen Baldridge | Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH
Pair: Alex Dodge & Glen Baldridge
November 17, 2017 – April 28, 2018
Pair: Glen Baldridge and Alex Dodge is the inaugural edition in what will be a series of exhibitions juxtaposing two artists from the Pizzuti Collection. Pair as a concept might be two works next to one another on a wall, or it could be, as with this edition, the linking and connecting of over thirty paintings, photographs, and prints by two artists. Such an effort is part of the mystical project of collections and museums: placing objects together with the idea that their proximity will cause a reaction. The observation of relationships will generate a scintillating friction of ideas.
Glen Baldridge (b. 1977 in Nashville, Tennessee) and Alex Dodge (b. 1977 in Denver, Colorado) were selected as the first Pair for myriad reasons: the Pizzuti Collection includes works from over a decade of their making, collected because of the Pizzuti’s interest in their respective projects coupled with the desire to gather a body of work in depth and over time. Baldridge and Dodge both attended Rhode Island School of Design, Baldridge graduating with a BFA in Printmaking and Dodge with a BFA in Painting. The early Aughts brought them together at CRG Gallery in New York (first as preparators and then as co-directors) where they collaborated on expanding the roster of artists and introducing print editions and video series. They share a studio space in New York and are both represented by Klaus Von Nichtssagend Gallery.
While their projects exist independently of each other, as Dodge describes, “there is a persistent undercurrent that connects it, at times through process, but consistently through our shared tendency to waver into murky darkness continually surfacing through humor.” Their paths have led them in their separate but adjacent ways to experiment sharply and slyly. They have adopted the images of our shared contemporary consumer and visual culture (we see Dairy Queen logos, IPhones, Michael Jackson’s glove, dollar bills) to comment on technology’s promises and perils, political and environmental crises, and the uncertainty of interpreting daily tsunamis of information. Using a plethora of traditional printmaking, photographic, and painting techniques but also experimenting with handmade tools, scratch off lotto ink, 3D modeling and computer programming, Baldridge and Dodge show us their version of our anxious and wondrous present moment mixed with levity and mirth.
The centerpiece of the exhibition, and an especially piquant example of the mingling of complex processes, is on view in the pairing of Baldridge’s pyrogravure of a deer in the forest and Dodge’s two reduction collages of draped forms. They are curious and materially compelling depictions of things that require an unfolding exercise of looking and exploring in order to get at what we see. In Untitled, a deer in the forest is blithely unaware of the hunting camera capturing its meandering, the shutter triggered by the deer’s own movement. Baldridge laser cut the image into a wood panel and created a print with only the char and burn grabbing at the paper. The blind printing process creates an imprint that pulls us in to ponder its tactile detail. A pervading sense of light in the sepia toned old fashiony-ness of the print pushes us back to absorb the totality of the sylvan quotidian – here memorialized by the animal’s unintentional “selfie”.
The two parts of Sexual Awakenings have an equally laborious and curious origin. Similar to many recent compositions, Dodge creates a computer rendering of a textile draped over objects, which then undergoes a process of translation from the virtual to the physical. Here the computer image is made two-dimensional and carved into paperboard. Part I shows a veiled structure with an obscured form that could be bodies intertwined. In Part II the sheet is partially pulled away, showing what Dodge explains is, “a system of self-assembling structures … a molecular sex or the process of molecular union or the creation of new forms through the self-assembly of basic constituent parts.” The mysterious and suggestive image is revealed as a geometric structure which speaks to Dodge’s larger project of addressing those intersections between human behavior and technology and our assumptions about what we think we know and how we understand what we see. There is something of the darkly concealed threading throughout Pair, as if whatever Baldridge and Dodge are making, it is always about the partly hidden, the inside joke, or the troubled underbelly of a system. They hint at alienation, deception, and the construction of ideas that are more fiction than fact. Their photogravures of apparition-filled forest glens or paintings of American Flags covering undisclosed volumes speaks to our moment when it is difficult to establish the definition of the truth, especially when “Post-Truth” is the 2016 word of the year and “alternative facts” is bandied about as a valid epistemological concept. The work in Pair, cleverly and across media, asks that we slow down, stand back, and make it our collective project to question what we see and think about the meanings and messages in our image saturated world.