Dots, Lines and Figures

Jeff Briggs, Donise English, Ben Shecter and Michael McLaughlin

May 27, 2010 through July 4, 2010

Dots, Lines and Figures

Carrie Haddad Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibit Dots, Lines and Figures, on view from May 27to July 4, 2010. The exhibit features paintings by Jeff Briggs and Ben Shecter, works in mixed media by Donise English, and the bronze sculptures of Michael McLaughlin.

Donise English exhibits an interest in mapping space, both real and imaginary. In her mixed media-works, lattice-like structures overlap to form complex grids. These structures stand up vertically, resembling ladders resting on a building, and then collapse to form an aerial plan of a more expansive space. Scale and perspective are elusive; a single drawing can feel both vast and intimate—like a network of city streets and a close-up of a stone building’s surface.

In “Layered Plan White Squares Black & White Curve,” an undulating grid is superimposed over washy blocks of varying grays. Here, the delicate grid reads like a net that envelops and fastens the gray blocks beneath. In this drawing, the presence of distinct layers, enhanced by the shift from one painterly language to another, makes the work come alive. Wet watercolor washes cause the fragile paper to dimple, gently. It’s uncanny the way English is able to convey such an acute sense of touch, a sensuous gravity, through her cold language of grids and squares. Deftly, she brings stony form to life.

In “Hobgood,” surface design departs in text-indent: 0.5in;" >These works evoke the pointillistic painting technique pioneered by George Seurat only to subvert it with the grace and subtlety characteristic of Briggs’ practice. Whereas Seurat’s paintings, comprised of a dense field of individuated points, rely on the eye of the viewer to synthesize this visual material, making it describe naturalistic form, Briggs’ works challenge their spectator to hold each mark in suspension. The marks that compose Briggs’ paintings resist fusion, each hovering independently in thick space. The sheer volume of visual information, and its refusal to synthesize, both confounds and calms—entrancing us by way of overwhelming our perceptual capacity. We can almost hear these works humming, and are left in awe of what a limited language can yield: defiantly, these marks pose as both jewels of light and particles of sound.

In the collection of paintings by Ben Shecter featured in this exhibit, one thing remains constant: the prominence of a theatrical space. A distinguished set and costume designer for the stage as well as the screen, Shecter constructs eerily artificial backdrops in which he situates objects and figures. Shecter simultaneously illustrates and pushes the limits of conventional illustration. Figures appear to pose for the spectator, assuming contrived, puppet-like stances. Quietly unsettling, his paintings captivate.

Michael McLaughlin’s beautiful bronze sculptures combine realism and fantasy: the antlers of an elegantly simple figure of a deer morph seamlessly into the branches of a tree. In a single figure, McLaughlin expresses the harmony of all natural life. The most compelling visual feature of McLaughlin’s emerges from the manner in which each sculpture has oxidized. The artist’s second work in the exhibit depicts two peacocks whose tails are composed of idealized, decorative plants resembling pussy willows. The sculpture has begun to oxidize—turn from cold blue-brown to chalky green-blue—at the moment at which the peacock tail gives way to plant form. The beautiful color transition, itself a testament to a natural process, accompanies the artist’s shift from figurative to fantastical depiction. The perfect alignment of the conceptual and the visual soothes, puts us in a meditative state in which movement is suspended and a still calm prevails.

Carrie Haddad Gallery is located at 622 Warren Street in Hudson, NY. Gallery hours are Thursday through Monday 11-5pm. For information or directions, please call the gallery at (518) 828-1915 or go to the website at

Ben Shecter

Donise English

Jeff Briggs

Michael McLaughlin