Painter Prajakti Jayavant’s scrappy kind of art
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Prajakti Jayavant’s work has appeared in Bay Area group shows regularly for several years. Now Meridian offers a comprehensive look at her work in an exhibition organized by former San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator John Zarobell.
Jayavant has carefully weighed her position as a painter coming late to a long-ongoing interrogation of art objects’ limits, of abstraction and of viewers’ contributions to the reality of art.
Her pieces take the form of paper sheets coiled, creased, stapled, trimmed, painted and occasionally scored to produce things that may look like artworks or merely like scraps of – something.
That the common culture in America remains confused about what it values, about how to value the perceived qualities of things, and that media of mass influence impinge on these quandaries, lends Jayavant’s work a more than academic relevance.
Some people may see the articulations in her work – the creases, the traces of material memory – merely as disfigurements: a trap to lure them into naively admiring damage masquerading as creativity.
Others will sense a pattern of decisions embedded in the differences, including color – monochrome rules here – that individualize Jayavant’s works.
Her least articulated pieces flirt with the zero degree of definition by which an artwork can assert a distinctive mode of presence. That borderline appears only when and where a fabricated object materializes it. The assent, or consensus, of viewers may be all that affirms its reality.
But shy of that level of risk, Jayavant can marshal, before properly prepared eyes, a range of references: to Richard Tuttle’s early canvas pieces, to the scrap metal vocabulary of the late John Chamberlain, the punning Africa-map/elephant-ear forms of David Ireland, perhaps even to certain early folded sculptures of David Rabinowitch. I’d be impressed if she knows them.
I even see, or can imagine that I see, in her “Untitled No. 30″ (2003) a reference to Robert Gober’s limbless wax torsos and simulated bags of cat litter, examples of homegrown American surrealism ostensibly worlds away from the formal reserve of Jayavant’s art.