Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Work by Lin Price and Robert Booth at Buffalo Arts Studio
Next story: Dreams of a Dance Party

Malcolm Bonney's artwork at the Remington Rand Buidling

Malcolm Bonney exhibit includes a wealth of sculptural assemblages and paintings.

Exegesis in Ochre

If I’m not careful, a review of Malcolm Bonney’s work now on view at the recently re-purposed loft spaces at 184 Sweeny Street in North Tonawanda will write itself right off the caption blocks of this voluminous installation. Sharing his opening with an all-day celebration offering free yoga, massage, accupuncture, and sonic reiki, these paintings and assemblages filled the hallways and spaces of the ground floor and an upper apartment as well.

It is no small contest to match Bonney’s artworks with the discursive interpretive text accompaning them. Moving through the spaces during the opening, dodging barefoot yoga enthusiasts in spandex leotards clutching wheatgrass smoothies, I craned my neck to peer at the copy, single-spaced sepia text on off-white panels, fascinated that a painting required such weighted recitation. Going back and forth from the texts to the paintings was like watching a tennis match. After a good hour of this I ignored the copy and tried to concentrate on the art.

Certainly these are well built works, constructed as much as painted with surfaces as varied as quilts, pillowed back rests and wire spool discs all solidly painted and framed. Almost as if made of concrete, the paint is often trowelled on and mixed with sand or glass beads. I began to think just looking at the paintings was insufficient once I had accepted the value-added supposition of the interpretive text. I tried to create a synthesis of parallel engagement with both the painting and copy. The text won out—I was not convinced that the paintings alone held my enthusiasm for an extended viewing.

Bonney is a widely travelled polymath and appears to work from a deeply personal academic trove of symbols, myth, and fantasy. He works his figurative images in layers of surface coloration overlapping rough fields of ochre-suffused ground, elucidating a matrix of shifting perspective in warm blues, reds, and greens.

It is possible the high concentration of text is an impediment to the full enjoyment of his works in this venue. However, that is not entirely true concerning Bonney’s free-standing mixed media; these works have a fresh, unlabored presence that stirs up a sense of free will, insouciant, unpredictable flourishs of assemblage in bright blues, reds, green-greys. Using common objects and combining them to stand upright precarious in balance, comic in color, he alludes to the artists of South America, building “combines” in the manner of Rauschenberg certainly, but closer to a Latin folk-art sensibility.

j. tim raymond

blog comments powered by Disqus