Review: Much notable work in contemporary Southeastern artists’ exhibit


“The New South II” at Kai Lin Art offers plenty of reassurance that the Southeast has a diversity of talent in an endless variety of forms. This juried group show of works on paper (with some notable exceptions) by 39 artists is the second (and stronger) of Kai Lin’s two large survey shows dedicated to Southeastern artists, with work this go-around chosen by jurors Veronica Kessenich, executive director of Atlanta Contemporary, and Michael White, director of the Welch School of Art and Design at Georgia State University.

RELATED: On myAJC.com: Review: Some hidden gems in sprawling, overburdened ‘The New South’

Though work in “The New South II” veers from abstraction to portraiture and from photography to sculpture and tackles subjects as diverse as celebrity culture and Southern food, you could say that — generally speaking — “The New South II” gravitates toward two poles: on one hand, cheeky; and on the other, political and socially engaged.

For the nutty side, exhibit A, the oddball collages of Axelle Kieffer, whose staid woman and boy in formal Victorian dress sport outrageous steampunk-meets-extraterrestrial masks. Compelling in their quiet surrealism, Joshua Chambers’ delicate drawings are surrounded by a satisfying sea of empty space and show people in improbably magic realist situations: a man with a bird’s wing for an arm or a woman on a bed with a man in scuba gear watching the water rise, licking at her feet from her queen-size raft.

Also just shy of wacky are Alea Hurst’s portraits of modern-day saints wearing gold halos as they flip burgers at an outdoor barbecue or show off their tattooed torsos, and Charlie Watt’s Catherine Opie-esque image of a nude lady beekeeper sporting the tools of her trade. Meanwhile R. Andrew Munoz’s deceptively childlike cut paper collages contain undercurrents of violence: spilled bottles of wine and hockey-masked killers lurking outside suggest things are not as Colorforms as they seem. Amusing commentary on the overvaluing of our role as consumers and the sanctity of buying, Raoul Pacheco offers up clever gilt sales receipts.

There’s a subtle but palatable strain of black identity in “The New South II” that gives the show some heft and heart, from the straightforward but sweet photograph of a black father supporting his son on his shoulders in Stephen Philms’ “Shoulders of Hope” to Alex Christopher Williams’ image “Atlanta, GA” of a black barbershop decorated with affirmations of black masculinity in photographs of Muhammad Ali and LeBron James. There are Joe Dreher’s images “Madison” and “Red” of a black man and child, hands over heart, waving a tiny flag, draped in a stars and stripes bandanna, as if to assert the resilience of belief and loyalty despite all odds.

Jamaal Barber’s graphic, iconic linocut, “Untamed/Free,” and Mia Merlin’s watercolor “Southern Woman 3” are bookend works; portraits of empowered, assertive young black women.

There are some interesting formal experiments in “The New South II,” as well, notably Lynx Nguyen’s “Ultimate Heaven,” an oddly transcendent work considering its lowbrow medium: ballpoint pen worked over the paper surface so intensely it soaks into and ripples the paper, creating topographic ridges and gaps, or abrades it, in some places revealing the pulp beneath.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

What is Earth Day? 5 things to know
What is Earth Day? 5 things to know

Sunday is Earth Day 2018, and more than one billion people across the globe are expected to celebrate with environmentally friendly events. But what exactly is Earth Day? Here's what you need to know: >> Read more trending news  The first Earth Day celebration took place 48 years ago, in 1970, after a devastating oil spill in America brought...
Concert review and photos: Pink flies high with dazzling return to Atlanta
Concert review and photos: Pink flies high with dazzling return to Atlanta

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene (This review was originally posted at 1:25 a.m. on April 22, 2018) Think what you want about Pink, but don’t doubt her integrity – as a musician, a performer, a humanitarian. She’s as real as it gets. So yeah, you try this while singing. Pink apparently has no problem! Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC...
Kim Zolciak likely departing ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ yet again
Kim Zolciak likely departing ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ yet again

Posted Sunday, April 22, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog Here we go again. Kim Zolciak is not coming back to “Real Housewives of Atlanta” after a short-lived part-time stint season ten, according to Us magazine. Five years ago, Zolciak walked out on “The Real Housewives...
Inside the birth of the Weather Channel
Inside the birth of the Weather Channel

When the Weather Channel launched in 1982, its founder, John Coleman, knew he was on to the start of something important and something special. In its first night on air, he presciently told viewers that the channel would “become the nation’s primary source of weather information” and that it would “serve the nation with information...
Concert review and photos: Bon Jovi romps through classics at Philips Arena return
Concert review and photos: Bon Jovi romps through classics at Philips Arena return

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene Ten songs into a two-hour-plus romp, Bon Jovi went back to the very beginning. Amber lights created a halo around David Bryan’s curls as he tapped out the signature opening of the band’s first hit, 1984’s “Runaway.” David Bryan, in his usual spot. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC...
More Stories