Sunday, October 17, 2004

'Drawing' lets viewer interpret forms



By C.E. Hanifin
Enquirer staff writer

[photo]
Rick Mallette sits on the floor of the Semantics Art Gallery in front of some of his work from his Drawing on the Wall exhibit.
The Enquirer/ERNEST COLEMAN

Stepping into Semantics Gallery on the afternoon before Rick Mallette's show opened earlier this month, the tart smell of wall paint is the first thing that hits you.

The second thing vying for attention is the origin of that scent - a huge work painted on an entire wall in the gallery's narrow front room. Interconnected, cartoonish black figures stretch across a white background.

Mallette's silhouettes suggest familiar shapes, but don't quite resolve into recognizable forms. That's exactly what the artist intended when he created the black-and-white painting, along with a work drawn in thick black marker on a pink wall in the gallery's back room, for his show, Drawing on the Wall.

Pointing out the spots at which some of the individual white-shaded black shapes on the pink wall could link together, but don't, Mallette says, "I think of this as a sea of incomplete forms that are seeking completeness."

The collection reveals the artist's fascination with opposites. Black vs. white, cartoonish figures vs. adult subject matter, negative space vs. positive space.

"The space between these forms is as important to me as the forms themselves," says Mallette, 42, of Clifton.

The artist, who moved from Chicago to Cincinnati two years ago, presented a solo show at the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center earlier this year. His work also was featured in the Chicago home used for a season on MTV's The Real World.

Mallette says he prefers to leave the interpretation of his art to its viewers.

"Some people look at this and think it's really sad," he says, standing in front of the pink wall drawing. "Others come in and they laugh. I like the idea of not being pigeonholed."

Gallery hours: noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Oct. 30. Semantics Gallery, 1107 Harrison Ave., West End. (513) 651-5460.

E-mail chanifin@enquirer.com




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