PELL LUCY: THE INTELLIGENCE OF FORM
BY DEBORAH BARLOW
PELL LUCY is a collaborative of artists who work from a shared belief that form possesses its own intelligence—one that, in the words of Pell Lucy artist Taney Roniger, is “far deeper and more complex than conscious, discursive thought.” This exhibit is an introduction to the work of these artists, a group of individuals who have spent most of their lives working alone in their studios, putting the integrity of their work first and foremost.
Their art takes many forms: Painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, assemblage, printmaking, collage. Their tendency is to respect the mystery of process, allow their materials to educate them, nurture an intense curiosity about the physical world, have little interest in the cynical but possess a high tolerance for chaos and uncertainty.
The “intelligence of form” they are seeking doesn’t language easily. It is an old dodge to say this mode of knowing is beyond language, but every artist—and every art lover--knows that inexplicable moment when a work comes into coalescence. It is a knowing that frequently registers in the body—a sense of thrall, or a pulsing with resonance. And what a gift when that happens! In the words of Seamus Heaney, “What matters is the shape-making impulse, the emergence and convergence of an excitement into a wholeness.”
These days it is reasonable to ask where art fits in this increasingly dim world. During these dark days we are inundated with imagery of political strife, world suffering and grief. Our reality is in the process of being violently reshaped. In the domain of art, a strong trend has increasingly focused on art that delivers a sociopolitical identity and ideology, an approach where form is clearly subordinate to content. Meanwhile a relentless flood of ads and images invade our viewing space every day. Jean-Luc Godard’s sharp observation, “an uninterrupted chain of images whose slaves we are,” is a sobering reminder of how deep into this morass we are.
Rather than capitulate to the hopelessness of our plight, a counter argument suggests that this overexposure to images of every stripe might be the training we need to develop new and differentiated ways of seeing. It may be that art exists as a rhizome—an ambient community that embraces the whole, apprehends multiplicities, is neither linear nor predictable, has no inside or outside, no up or down. In this vision of things there is no center because the center is, well, everywhere. The intelligence of form resides abundantly in this “reticulate mesh” (Merlin Sheldrake’s phrase to describe the massive expanse of mycelium that covers the earth, underground and unseen.) This version of the world—one that encompasses human life as well as every other component of matter in the universe—is one where art exists as a worthy participant, contributor and meshmate.