Art review: Suzy Poling and Cynthia Greig at DNJ


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All photographs are acts of abstraction, but not all photographers engage overtly with the devious, multiplicitous nature of the medium. Suzy Poling and Cynthia Greig both make a point of asserting that the world visible within their pictures is not necessarily continuous with the world beyond the frame. Both indulge in playful distortion and amusing confusion. Their concurrent shows at DNJ are a pleasant tease.

Poling, based in Oakland, intersperses photographs of geysers at Yellowstone National Park with images she’s made by painting, burning and otherwise manipulating photographic film. The two sets of pictures have a strong familial resemblance: the swirls and pools of amped-up color (fiery reds and oranges, metallic silver, lurid cyan) in the “Ellipses” look like close-ups of the molten, crusty and steamy landscapes. One group maps a place, the other a process. Both revel in extremes of color and texture, whether brought about by hand or naturally, over time. Both bring to mind the noxious beauty in Joe Goode’s “Ozone” paintings.


Greig’s photographs read at first glance as drawings but quickly reassert themselves as something else, hybrids of the manual and mechanical. Each of the “Representations” depicts a familiar object — telephone, boom box, pair of shoes, stack of coffee cups — in the center of a white, amorphous ground, comparable to a sheet of paper. Greig, who lives in Detroit, has painted each of the objects white, then articulated their edges in charcoal so that, when photographed, the objects appear to be outline drawings. And yet. Greig doesn’t push the illusion all the way but instead leaves enough evidence of her hand and process to allow the work to teeter, coyly, between two worlds.

-- Leah Ollman

DNJ Gallery, 154 ½ N. La Brea Ave., L.A., (323) 931-1311, through July 10. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Images: From the Ellipses series by Poling (top) and from Grieg’s Representations series. Courtesy of the DNJ Gallery.