There's a kind of irreverence to Noriko Ambe's cut paper artworks now on view at Lora Reynolds Gallery. Slicing up artists' catalogs - no matter that the end result makes for delicate art objects - bears an impiousness, however impish, that can't be ignored.
Cy Twombly, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons and Hiroshi Sugimoto are among the all-male roster of superstar artists that Ambe chose, selecting a catalog or monograph by each. She then embarked on her labor-intensive process, delicately altering each page of each book with a series of cuts so that every volume is transformed into a kind of elaborate excavated version of its original form.
As critic Lilly Wei outlines in an essay that accompanies this exhibit, the Tokyo-born New York-based Ambe intended for her actions to be a collaboration of a sorts with each artist. Ambe studied each volume intensely, we're told, to work `with them through the assimilation of their art, without the need to be personal.'
Yes, there is a certain collaborative reverence here on Ambe's part as well as a certain cool detachment. But Ambe's subtractions also ironically add up - however unintentionally - to a delicate riff on 20 art-world heavyweights.
In `Dot on Dots and Layers: Roy Lichtenstein,' the seminal Pop artist gets his Ben-Day dotted cartoon-like images punctured even more by Ambe's drilled holes. Ambe adds more sprawl to Twombly's random sprawling scrawls with random incisions of her own. The pages of Gerhard Richter's `Atlas' are mined to the core as if to reach some ultimate source behind the work of the enigmatic German artist. And with `Beautiful Inside My Head Forever: Damien Hirst,' the British prankster known for sticking a dead shark in a vitrine of formaldehyde, will find his monograph volume chopped and stuffed into a short grey filing cabinet.
The current exhibit is curated by New York-based collector Glenn Fuhrman. (Fuhrman is the co-founder of MSD Capital, Michael Dell's investment fund. Fuhrman's FLAG Art Foundation in New York presents exhibits of contemporary art and co-produced the catalog to the current show which will go on exhibit there in 2010.)
Ambe certainly performs a collaboration with her honored roster. But in a brilliant stroke, she slices into something deeper as well.
'Noriko Ambe: Artist Books, Linear-Action Cutting Project'
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays through Dec. 31
Where: Lora Reynolds Gallery, 360 Nueces St.