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Julia Phillips at Matthew Marks
October 16, 2021 - January 22, 2022
The sculptures on view in Julia Phillip’s solo show Between Love and Loss involve ceramic casts of various body parts — think a globby form holding the imprint of a squeezed hand, or a smooth cast of a clavicle glazed in fleshy reds and tans. The latter appears in Mediator II (2021), a sculpture in which a metal cast of a microphone sits between two clavicle casts affixed to the horizontal ends of a metal cross. The piece evokes the surreal psychology of a dream and the sanitized aesthetic of a scientific device. Elsewhere, a glazed cast of a hip bone dangles above a limestone base outfitted with a drain. The sculptures continue in this way, blending wobbly ceramic bits with metal hardware and stone to suggest some kind of removed functionality. Some of these ad-hoc tools rest horizontally on stainless steel tables, like bodies laid out during a medical examination.
The website accompanying the exhibition features a short playlist of songs by revered operatic soprano Jessye Norman, an inspiration for Phillips. Phillips describes the exhibition’s title (also a reference to Norman’s work) as an encapsulation of the full range of emotions that have surfaced for many throughout the pandemic (and viewing her exhibition with Norman’s arias soaring through a pair of headphones will certainly enliven the work’s deeply seated emotional tenor).
The softness of Phillips’ glazed and imperfect ceramic elements, cast into disembodied and fractured sculptures, insists on something personal and psychological, while the work’s hard-edged materiality alludes to constraint, coldness, and infrastructure — dualities that we’ve all found ourselves caught within during these turbulent years.
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Photo: Julia Phillips, Between Love and Loss (installation view) (2021). Image courtesy of the artists and Matthew Marks Gallery.