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October 1 - 31, 2004, at Don O'Melveny Gallery, West Hollywood

by Bill Lasarow

“Captain Nemo,” 2003, mixed
media, 26 x 22 x 5”.

“Diva,” 2004, mixed
media, 33 x 31 x 8”.

“Friend,” 2004, mixed
media, 20 x 28 x 8”.

“Directional Vision,” 2004, mixed
media, 18 x 27 x 2”.

The discovery of an image drawn from the merest suggestion of one constitutes the delighted and misbehaving heart of Eva Kolosvary-Stupler’s current body of assembled sculptures and wall reliefs. If alchemy is the discredited science, let’s promise we won’t tell that to the cadre of artists, of which Kolosvary-Stupler is undeniably one, who are constantly carting a new load of goodies--junk to the uninitiated--to their inner sanctum for contemplation and transformation.

So, let’s see, that broken rake over there. . .could be a headful of spikey hair. Put those old bike wheels inside that rusty rim. . .now whose eyes could they be? Those chains. . .a perfect coat for an animal; now where are those drawer handles? They can be its horns. These small moments of associative clarity not only add up, but energize the larger stories and connections that develop not only within individual ob-jects but through their collective presence.

Ever notice just how much assemblage is black, brown, rusty red, or ochre? Yes, a very buzz cut kind of look, a habit left over from when Edward Kienholz was insisting on striving to keep it as ugly as possible. Junk just seems to come that way, maybe from having been buried with the compost for some years before entering into its newfound realm of privilege. By now the stuff does tend to radiate “pretty.”

Check out Agricultural Landscape, with its rusted-to-the-point-of-disintegration field, row of drunken nails sunk into its skull, and nasty spinning sun of an old gear that looks equally prepared to turn the soil in preparation for new seed, or to rip your guts out.

If the revelation of assemblage that first hit us in that long ago when Bruce Connor and George Herms were beat kids is now quite civil and polite, Kolosvary-Stupler just doesn’t mind at all. And it’s pretty damned liberating to see how she caresses the old man in order to kick out the stops.

How many art babies hear the line about knowing when to stop? There is a distinct feeling that this body of work is smiling, and it is because this artist really nails that one down. The few wooden components that make up Captain Nemo are appropriately nautical. But then it strikes a tone of heroic capacity bumping its head beyond the limits of its moral compass. So here is a moment when the identity of the borning object crystallizes in the mind. Lovely how other tales start spinning as you move from this bent notion of Verne’s anit-hero to a Diva (with her grandly waving hair--or arms?--and gongs) or a Duck in Flight (with a tail like a dragon and little gold feet rather like a dainty Ginger Rogers).

Now this person may be angry, a rough customer, or they may be no nonsense. Or perhaps she is self absorbed, compulsive, and living in a past that no longer matters. It’s of no concern, none of that. Because what registers is the honest search for the moments of aesthetic insight. Here is a tinkerer who wants to tinker. You feel the eyes, working with the hands, working with the brain to get things to fit together that ought not. The yen for discovery, an addiction to those occasional moments of revelation can be such a sugar high, quickly gone and followed by a crash. Kolosvary-Stupler is able to let go of these moments, allowing each work here to ascend to its own level, and then just move on.

So not everything “works;” individual works display greater or lesser wit or conviction or expressive intensity. But for all the chromatic rigidity the places you’ll go in traveling with this work are good for the soul. Meet the land and people that inadvertently spring from Kolosvary-Stupler’s shop of aesthetic alchemy and you may not be forever changed, but trash day will never be the same.