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Paintings and Assemblages by Ani Hoover at Nichols School Gallery

Art Practice

I first encountered the artist’s luminous paintings at the Albright-Knox in 2007, when several of her museum-sized scroll pieces were lavishly displayed on the expansive walls. Ani Hoover employed the simple circle as a vehicle to explore color and texture to arrive at the watery, color-dense and dimensional surfaces of her Yupo paper paintings. The work now on view through October investigates how she moved on from that earlier work when she began cutting up her old paintings in 2010 to create painting assemblages and experimented further with other recycled materials.

Many artists these days are repurposing older works out of necessity and practicality—recycling makes sense. This kind of playing around with materials also leads to invention. Several pieces in this show feature cutout circular rings that reveal remnants of the former circles and drips. She joins the rings with plastic zip ties to craft airy nets that drape across the wall—like curtains that move, reflect, and cast shadows—depending upon the environment and arrangement on a wall. A splash of light throws a hovering of pink behind “astro-dot-net,” strung like a rolling wave by gallery windows.

In addition to a number of her signature two-dimensional paintings, there are playful conceptual works. One wall is covered with a display of actual drip-shaped pieces cut from her earlier drip paintings and mounted inches away from the wall, as if falling in a drip motion. The artist has also transformed the flat circle into a large inflatable translucent ball by taping together filmy cereal bags.

As I looked over the selections on the walls of the Glenn and Audrey Flickinger Performing Arts Center, a friendly bow-tied student stopped to chat about the show. He expressed an unusual amount of art appreciation for a teenager and pointed out his favorite piece, a black floral wall relief. The boy has an eye for what is current. While Hoover’s earlier works tend to be purely abstract investigations of color, the two newest pieces made this year entirely lack color—they are all form. The cut and folded reliefs are made from black bicycle tire inner tubes and white coffee filters.

This new work is reminiscent of the sculpture of 20th century artist, Louise Nevelson, known for her all black and all white assemblages. She believed that black and white are not without color—rather, they represent the totality of all color. Nevelson claimed that a white lace curtain on the window could touch her as deeply as a great work of art. “This gossamer quality—the reflection, the form, the movement—I learned more about art from that than I did in school.”

Some of the earliest images drawn by children are circles and flowers. Often the subject of corny painting and design, the flower image remains modern. Isa Genzkin’s 28-foot long-stemmed steel rose adorned the face of the New Museum building in New York. Just as Hoover’s use of the circle opened a way to explore color, these floral forms seem to be a tribute to the recycled materials themselves. The natural world seems to merge with the man-made.

There is obvious symbolism and metaphor in the circle, the flower, and joining parts together—transformation. Yet, Ani Hoover provides no narrative for the meaning of her work. Interpretation is best left for the viewer to determine for herself. The artist’s website features the words: “Collecting, arranging, assembling…then doing it all over again.” So simple—so relevant. The artist’s studio is a place of repetition and the work is a practice. As I looked around the gallery walls, I felt a tangible sense of Hoover’s experiments in trying this and trying that, mixing and remixing elements. REMIX displays a body of work covering the past four years in an installation tour that demonstrates how she has furthered her expressions and evolved through practice and play. Where will she go next?

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