DCistNancy Daly2008

"New Works at Hamiltonian Gallery" by Lynne Venart

DCistNancy Daly2008

an excerpt from the article...

U Street’s new Hamiltonian Gallery openedon October 11 to a bustling crowd of curious onlookers. Those who were there to see how the space had been transformed after its twenty years of vacancy were in for a treat right from the start, and greeted at the front door by Nao Matsumoto’s Whore, an oversized but functioning quarter-fed vibrator. The sculpture doesn’t much resemble your typical sex toy, but instead is a huge, anvil-shaped pink eraser perched atop a black metal box labeled “WHORE”, with a cutesy pink heart informing us it takes quarters only (it really does).

Each exhibit at Hamiltonian features one mentor artist and two fellows. Brooklyn sculptor Matsumoto is this month’s mentor, and his extensive experience (which includes teaching at Pratt) shows in both the meticulous construction and engineering of his work, and in his confidence to deal with such provocative subject matter. Matsumoto’s other sculptures on display include a set of plastic, vibrating fertility dolls, and a fully-functioning flame thrower.

This month’s two fellows are Ian MacLean Davis, who holds an MFA from MICA, and Bryan Rojsuontikul, who graduated last year from George Mason with a BFA. While Davis’ work is visually stimulating and his technique well-honed (often layering acrylic, drawing, and the oft-snubbed giclee), the content of his work is perplexing. One struggles to make sense of his squirming lines, which hint at elements of mapping and human form, often without clearly pinpointing a target of reference. 

Bryan Rojsuontikul's site-specific A Saffron Revolution, the Military Murdered the Monks uses duct tape to emulate paint, spilling onto the floor and covering approximately 10x10 feet of space. Image courtesy of Ernest Barreto.

Rojsuontikul’s intent is much more obvious, without suffering from a lack of ambiguity (which he does add into his titles). Clearly influenced by painting and the Washington Color School, the sculpture-trained artist uses duct tape as a replacement for paint, likely chosen both for its physical qualities and to question traditional methods of art-making. Rojsuontikul created most of his pieces at Hamiltonian, using hard-to-find duct tape brights that run seamlessly from the canvas to the wall to form the stripes and contrasts associated with the Color School. His “paint” often extends onto the floor, emulating the liquid medium with drips and splotches carved out of the rows of tape.

Though the work of the three artists’ is quite different in both content and form, they share a drive for technique and exploring their medium’s boundaries. Both Rojsuontikul and Davis elevate less respected media, while Matsumoto pushes sculpture into sometimes uncomfortable interactivity.

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