The converted space of the Tri-Main Center, home to Buffalo Arts Studio, is an ideal place to showcase the new exhibits from Alicia Malik, and Kristina Siegel and Jorg Schnier.
Malik’s “Husks,” which consists of acrylic and watercolor paintings of insects, is very different from Siegel and Schnier’s textile and print installation of a room, though both take on a detailed investigation of life and death in small and overlooked places. Housing these both in a repurposed space allows the subtext of history and reuse to move through the artists’ interrogations.
Malik’s best work in “Husks” presents a cinematic quality, imbued with motion that encourages a stare into their abyss, to find interconnectedness with life cycles that even the smallest of living creatures must endure. In “(landscape),” Malik creates a sense of the cosmic in the green, brown and rust-colored body of a fly, as specks of its colors stream out into a band of spreading motes, and the not-quite black darkness encroaches from the edges. The first impression is of the Milky Way, and the second is of inevitability and dust.
Most of her pieces present a developed sense of place even in the absence of detail. For example “DENSE” consists of a single bug with a small reflection below it on the bottom left of a large white canvas. In contrast, “Raw Honey” provides a deeper dimensionality. A bee showing only its back and glistening wings rests in the middle ground while particles and dust surround it in the fore, and fade into the white background. The effect creates a narrative: The body is on a journey away from the viewer, heading toward a white void of the unknown.
Other pieces like “Tangled in a pendulum” and “Ode to ice cream” can be less successful in evoking these existential questions she looks to explore, remaining too grounded and not reaching far enough beyond representation.
Entering into Siegel and Schnier’s room is like stepping into a place after Malick’s microcosms have been bleached, swept and cleared out, leaving only the vague, illuminated representations of what existed before.
Using transparent silk organza, which has a white sheen to its surface, the suspended fabric creates the architecture of a simple room. Two large openings in a wall of the fabric give access to the room, while a silk window floats nearby, casting odd shadows where a window should or could be installed. At the center of the room a suit jacket and matching pants hang suspended next to a dress made out of the same silk material.
The pair sculpts with light as much as with the fabric and the prints thumbtacked to the walls. Shadows in the room are never dark, and the translucence of the fabric creates a very ephemeral feeling, as if the walls and windows could haunt a structure like ghosts in the clothes. The prints, which consist of corners and other abstract snapshots of room architecture, create a sense of history, as they might be images of the room in the past, or the possibilities of the future.
In the context of a reused building, these complementary exhibits raise the question of what ghosts – insect and otherwise – might still be in the walls of the Tri-Main building and our other living spaces, long after viewing these contemplative and stimulating works.
What: Alicia Malik Kristina Siegel and Jorg Schnier
Where: Buffalo Arts Studio, Tri-Main Center, 2495 Main St., Suite 500
When: Through Sept. 13