ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lucy Maki, though not Amazonian in physical stature, continues to perform feats of intellectual power while developing large-format paintings and constructions in her small studio near Downtown Albuquerque.
Her “Lucy Maki: ASLANT” selected paintings and constructions solo show at Exhibit 208 is a wonderful follow-up for her 2011 show at the gallery.
Maki has been hard at work during the past three years and has produced a completely new jaw-dropping series of constructions that echo the axial tilt of the Earth.
Her constructions stylistically span more than 100 years of art history, including the Constructivists, Cubists and Futurists, but she has turned pursuit of the old avant-garde into a personal journey.
Her latest work that tilts the horizontal plane moves away from landscape reference into a more poetic and rhythmic realm. When Kurt Schwitters abandoned Dada in favor of Constructivism he too abandoned the fixed horizon. During his lifetime he built three versions of his “Merzbau,” an over-the-top architectonic installation that consumed the interiors of three different houses.
Maki has had the foresight to build her “Merzbau” in portable sections which can be reassembled to create beautiful exhibitions anywhere and thereby save her studio space for further exploration and art making.
The show opens with “Satellite,” an astonishingly dynamic composition driven by a circular form on the lower right that seems to engage several triangular blades that fan up into and through the lower left. Their shapes are echoed right above the wheel form. Though made up of predominately straight lines, the lack of a fixed horizon creates the illusion of unceasing interior and exterior motion.
Next to “Satellite” is “Split Decision,” a raucous composition filled with dancing triangles accented with spiral skeins of paint adding a tough touch of Jackson Pollock to the fray. If Maki were a poet she would win the slams with kayos.
Le Corbusier would be impressed with Maki’s “Three Squared” but might object to the beautiful pale green and turquoise rectilinear shapes dropped in the midst of an otherwise modernist arrangement. It is a stunning composition that is among many museum-quality works in the show.
An artist cannot go astray using spirals and stripes. Maki pulls off a coup with “Sun and Moon,” which helps underline the cosmic nature of the collection. The syncopated design juxtaposes circles and slightly askew striped rectangles to form a powerful dynamo within a diminutive structure.
Peaches, cream and rectilinear dreams seem to inform “Color Code,” a truly yummy construction bathed in tans and creams while singing cool jazz. Be-bop-a-ruba, she’s my baby now. Well not really, but Maki has pulled the stops in a small-format piece that is so quietly subtle and rich that I can almost hear Edvard Munch’s scream of nature echoing across the decades.
Last but far from least is simply “Abstraction,” one of Maki’s most cross-cultural and super-transcendent works in the show. The black-and-white construction with primitive art connections has stripes and lozenge shapes that bebop dance through the horizontal albeit aslant picture plane with a force that belies its small format. This is a wow piece that achieves the best elements found in the installation.
In Maki’s artist statement she explains her motives: “The visual concern is to create an encapsulated, yet allusive, sensual object that punctuates actual space with an expansive energy and grounds the viewer in the here and now”.
She has succeeded in everything with the possible exception of grounding the viewer; I may never find my way home again. Don’t miss it.