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Alex Hirsch
Russo-Lee Gallery, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer


Alex Hirsch, "Explosion I," 2016, watercolor on paper, 27 1/4 x 34 3/4". Photo: Courtney Frisse

Continuing through January 28, 2017

In Alex Hirsch’s dazzling watercolor and gouache works on paper, lines and rectangles whirl in an airborne dance. Her exhibition, titled “Once Asunder,” dares our visual perception to divine whether these compositional elements are coalescing or exploding. “Skylight” exults in moody grayscale tones, its linear structure overlaying a background of seeping organic nebulae. This work and others such as “Span” and “Stacked” sparkle with irridescent pigments, lending a dreamily utopic aura to these otherwise jittery, hyperkinetic paintings. 

“Stacked” suggests a wooden shed being torn apart by a tornado, planks flying akimbo like so many pickup sticks.  A suite of five glass works, dotted with liquid gold, depart from the paintings’ linear motifs with ovular and circular forms. “In Summation,” the exception to this rule, seamlessly integrates the divergent compositional schemas. In our tumultuous times, it is hard not to read political implications into these dueling visions of centripetal and centrifugal forces — as one group pulls together, preparing to ride out the storm, while the opposing group, howling with wind and bluster, tries its level best to rend the house asunder.

Russo-Lee Gallery

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