The work in this exhibition at Barry Whistler Gallery by Linnea Glatt is methodical, precise and quietly moving. While the works are often visually minimal, using only black and white, circles, lines and dots, they have a presence based on the accretion of their labor.
Labor used to be a word that could be tied to abstraction. It was in the early twentieth century when abstraction was invented that the very notion of the artist/worker also rose to prominence. This came to a head with Abstract Expressionist artists who treated the studio as a workshop, wearing coveralls and diligently embracing the status of the proletariat. In the 1970s feminist artists expanded the notion of labor to encompass domestic work. Today, with Takashi Murakami, Demian Hirst or Jeff Koons as examples of artists functioning more like venture capitalists, those days seem long gone. But even the reference to a piece of art as a “work” harkens back to the days when labor was part of a belief system.
Made with a sewing machine and thread on mulberry paper, many of these “works” use the grid as a starting point. But like Agnes Martin or Eva Hesse, the grid allows a structure for indeterminacy to chart its meandering path around a clear trajectory. As a result, analog machinery and the hand collaborate to make something that is deeply felt.
Glatt uses seriality in a way that suggests time with progressive iterations of a visual trope. For instance, one series of drawings involves two circles. In each one the circles come closer and closer until they overlap, pass through one another and switch places, suggesting anything from a lunar eclipse to a Venn diagram. This was a common strategy for Minimalist artists and like Sol Lewitt’s cubes, the circle becomes a site for endless exploration.