The Drawers - Ruth Waldman    Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Narrative?

With allusions to bondage, Ruth Waldman's trussed biomorphic forms are both playful and memorable like a good session of bondage carried out by an ardent lover. The forms, unattractive beings, provoke a fascination with their grotesqueness that is tempered by the range of colors (melon, mauve, tangerine, turquoise and pink). The saccharine tints, fine trussing, filigree couplings and curvaceous shapes draw one in for closer inspection, trusting that there will be pleasantries. But on inspection, the harnesses, pierces, lacings and pricks appear tighter and sharper. The colors describe flesh, filtered to fool and attract so that the plight of the misshapen is examined with delighted curiosity and titillated wonder. Having examined the strung-out little beings (even on large formats the characters are small), the residual taste is still not bitter; if anything it is sweeter, a near-morbid fascination. The delicate treatment of the rendering creates awe rather than revulsion despite the bulbous extrusions or stretched and wrinkled flaps.

The sexual innuendo is pointed. Corsets finely sculpt the bulbous forms. Skirts are parted, legs are spread and organs exposed. Veins reveal the pulse of excitement. Swellings plump up with juices. The manipulation of body parts is carried out with elegant trappings of torture, clean and precise.

The illusions to art history are many. There are flat floating memories of Paul Klee's zany creatures, Bosch's organic sprouting tendrils minus the moral overtones, Kandinsky's curves or medieval tapestries. Dr. Seuss is invoked with his illustrative charm gone wild in an orgy of balanced pushes and pulls. Mechanical guy wires hold the balance in place within a white pristine space that suggests more beyond the borders of the paper. Who or what is exerting the tension?

Copyright 2006,  Headbones Gallery, The Drawers