Sue Scott Gallery

Art in Review

Roberta Smith
The New York Times, September 2009

FRANKLIN EVANS

‘2008/2009 < 2009/2010’

Sue Scott Gallery

1 Rivington Street, at the Bowery

Lower East Side

Through Oct. 24

Having been mostly confined to elaborate abstract watercolors in his last show, Franklin Evans’s art is now all over the place. It has embraced the popular convention of the ephemeral wall-to-wall-environment, although it makes the genre look archaic and faded.

This installation, which Mr. Evans spent about a month creating, covers everything but the ceiling and the gallery’s office.

The total effect is of a giant walk-in watercolor, or of an artist’s studio striped and blotted with color that accrued during the making of many paintings. This is achieved primarily with many parallel and perpendicular strips of colorful hand-painted tape. Balled-up clumps of tape lie in corners. Little loops of tape dot the wall like confetti. In some of the best parts, fluorescent tape is cut into tiny pieces that are applied to wall and floor in small, intense mosaics.

Much else in the way of light, transient materials contributes, along with art books and recent news releases from New York galleries. These are taped to the floor, as is a page of dialogue from “Romeo and Juliet” in which Romeo suddenly segues into a discussion of Ernesto Neto’s work.

Many watercolors, framed and not, also join in. Often they depict a lone tree and landscape in a pixelated grid in different hues, as if imitating both computer printouts and four-color separation. In one, the tree seems to have been typed in bright colors on index cards using an old-fashioned typewriter, but closer examination reveals that it, too, is watercolor applied by hand.

Mr. Evans is foremost a latter-day Process artist. Thought processes, studio processes and art world processes are all evoked here, and parsing the details can be engrossing. But taken as a whole, or even in larger pieces, the show looks indecisive and creaky. It could be a long-lost precedent for bolder environments being made today, rediscovered and dusted off. ROBERTA SMITH

Exhibitions