January 19, 2011

Color and Line: Collages by Chris Corales at the Gregory Lind Gallery

"We Swing Past Right & Wrong (for DJH)"

Most of the collages you run into these days make use of images; many include text. But what if you were to avoid these easy shots in favor of the basic elements of color and form? You might end up with something like a Mondrian painting, right? Little rectangles of color dancing around (if you're lucky) on a paper ground.

That's the kind of stuff Chris Corales is showing at the Gregory Lind Gallery. The old paper and cardboard that he uses - the piece illustrated on the left is constructed on a discolored four- track tape box - give Corales' pieces a hint of antiquity, which might feel forced if it weren't fully supported by the colors that he chooses. Check out those strong but ragged reds, and the faded shade of celery like you might find in old wallpaper from the twenties. And what about that smudgy cordovan over in the right, run up against a long strip of flat, rich orange? Serious challenges; inspired choices. The man makes use of everything that these old fragments have to offer; rips and rust spots and holes in the cardboard actively contribute to the final product. This takes a steady hand, of course, but Corales has one.

At its best, Corales' efforts evoke some of Kurt Schwitters' work with ticket stubs and other urban detritus: simple, spare, unafraid - and profoundly respectful of the materials. But Corales seems to be more willing to let his off-white backgrounds speak - which in turn provides enough room to let those strips and scraps of color have their say as well.

Gregory Lind had three discrete types of Corrales collages on display last Saturday. The gallery's current "Hi-Def" show features several "books" composed of unbleached cardboard panels, hinged together and decorated with color and line. Very spare, very minimal, and quite elegant in their way, but more diffuse than his other offerings. Pulled up from the archives and not officially part of the show were half a dozen hand-built 10" x 13" panels, approximately 1 1/4" thick, on which Corrales has mounted some very fine examples of his work. The gallery's website features some of these. And then there 's the piece built on the tape box, "We Swing Past Right & Wrong (for DJH)" and another small box-based piece that I didn't catch the name of. All carefully considered, all meticulously constructed, all exquisite in their way.

Corales chooses his materials carefully, and then lets them speak for themselves; it's up to us to listen to the conversation.