Videowatercolors: Carel Balth Among His Contemporaries

Color residues, image remnants, and blurring boundaries figure in this mouthful of a show, which includes no actual watercolors. Videos, yes. Also some photos and photos of photos. And also some collages and rearrangements of photos where the textures and borders shift to the point where up and down are unclear. (And still more: The Henry includes supporting works from Gerhard Richter, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Wolfgang Tillmans, and others.) The Dutch artist Balth isn't really a photographer. He'll take an image of rippling water—itself cropped out of a conventionally "pretty" scene—then section it into tiles. The vertical no longer matches the horizontal. The displaced segments no longer read as water but as some kind of glacial incursion into a bay … perhaps, say, in Alaska. (Without context, the mind plays tricks and invents new scenes.) The surface is no longer reliable, or it's in a process of mutation. Elsewhere, a dancer is photographed in series at different points in her routine, a la Muybridge; and scenes of melting snow also suggest the progression of time. A clock tower that, again, might be conventionally scenic, is bisected; and the difference between the two halves of the photo diptych is apprehensible only by the degree of sun and shadow. In a soothing colorfield video, the hues gradually shift—what was green is no longer reliably green, but something else. Everything has shifted; or, to use the show's organizing metaphor, the surface has run slightly like watercolor. From composition to capture to canvas or paper and finally to our own eyes, Balth's images resist stasis. Or put differently: His subject is flux. BRIAN MILLER

Thursdays, Fridays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Starts: Oct. 14. Continues through Jan. 22, 2011

 
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