DCKT Contemporary is pleased to announce HELEN ALTMAN’s first solo exhibition in New York. On view are three moving blankets and a selection of torch drawings. In this exhibition, ALTMAN explores notions of reality versus artificiality in everyday life. ALTMAN adheres to themes on imitation nature touched on in her earlier work.
ALTMAN’s moving blankets reference the nostalgia often associated with quilting. ALTMAN combines found fabrics with commercially manufactured moving blankets and found photographic imagery of animals with thermal transfer technology.
In Gulls, a flock of seagulls fly toward the viewer with a horizon line of sea and sky horizontally bisecting the black and white image. A vertical bar of black fabric with gold polka dots anchors the right side of the blanket. A chevron pattern has been mechanically quilted over the entire surface by the moving blanket manufacturer, following ALTMAN’s specifications. The binding edges in kelly green frame the work and further estrange the viewer from this seemingly natural world. One is constantly reminded that we can not be part of this scene, that what we are viewing is completely artificial. The other two blankets in the show, Horse and Spotted Dog each picture the larger than life animal in a solitary stance. With these animals isolated from the rest of their flock, vulnerability is palpable.
ALTMAN’s torch drawing technique, which she has been fine-tuning for over a decade, is unforgiving and often results in more failure than success. ALTMAN uses an actual propane torch to scorch water-soaked paper before it ignites. In each drawing, a different animal is centered on the sheet of paper and rendered in a natural stance. Varied hues of brown are the only indication that flame creates their physicality and depth. The animals are drawn both from memory and photographic reference.
ALTMAN’s work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA.; The Dallas Museum of Art, TX; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.