Thursday, August 20, 2015

Andrew Lidgus: "Duality" at the Sherrie Gallerie

Andrew Lidgus, whose work is showing through August 30 at the Sherrie Gallerie in Columbus, is both a pianist and a fine artist. This may be called a duality, but Lidgus integrates two aspects of an artistic self singularly well in works that themselves defy genre. Neither paintings nor sculptures nor collages, perhaps "assemblage," that generously comprehensive category, comes closest to describing them.
Andrew Lidgus, Points of View, paint, matte board, nails,
 25.5 x19.5" i

All the work in this show simultaneously communicates high spirits and reassuring stability. The assertive color clashes happily; the construction is impeccably disciplined. Lidgus shuns artists' materials, turning to cardboard, carpenters' nails, sandpaper, house paint and other common treasures. His combination of color choices, attentive workmanship, and biomorphic shapes all remind me of mid-twentieth-century art. This may account for an air of classicism I feel strongly in this beautiful work.

From a distance, it's easy to feel the music in a work like Points of View, in which the viewer can find a lyrical line of red dots underscored by a slightly dissonant, broad violet, flowing across the rhythmic beats of black and pink strokes. Green forms have the shape of a grand piano's convex and concave curve and cut.  

The closer one comes, though, the fuller and more distinct the sound, for this isn't just music on a score, but music in dimension, moving into time and space. Some of the red dots are the heads of carpenters' nails, the shadows of which add in every sense another dimension—overtones, a locked hand—to the now separate melodic line. It's a duet, a duality? 
Andrew Lidgus, detail, Points of View

One sees too, close up, that the entire surface of Point of View is in fact created of many stacked planes. It's a topography of heights and it is further complicated by being a topography of colors as well, since the paint doesn't follow the geography of the cut-outs. 

Points of View is a gorgeous, multifaceted work of visual art, one through which any viewer can travel for a long time again and again. But its delight can be multiplied greatly by considering it as an example of interarts, replete with musical content as well. It looks like complex, free music sounds. We can experience this in feeling, in a synthesis of vision and sound.

Lidgus shows a variety of "looks" in Duality, but all of it is strongly related by rhythm, order, and color. Whether he depends on paint with raised elements, whether he works in monotone bas-relief, or in a blend of the two, all fits together to give his body of work tremendous integrity.

Gallery owner Sherrie Hawk has used her excellent eye to highlight this signature fact about Lidgus's work. She has hung the show in a way that not only shows off the beauties of particular works, but which invites the viewer to see similarities that could be lost opportunities in a less sensitive (and educational) hanging.
Andrew Lidgus. In the Privacy of My Mind (left) and Midnight Sky (right).
 At first glance the two pieces above may appear dissimilar, since the one is painted and the other is all black, made of primarily woven strips of  matte board. Nevertheless, the proximity of these works feels natural and restful. What makes them work?

Perhaps it's the rounded form toward the top in each piece: The circle on the right and the half circle on the left. Each work is dominated by lines. Though In the Privacy of My Mind repeats the semi-circles, those forms are filled with vertical lines; the circles in Midnight Sky are composed of the grids that fill the work. In the latter work, it appears different that strong oblique lines cut across the surface of the grid, breaking up the simple grid. But the first surface of In the Privacy… is not straight at all, but is built from lines like reeds in the wind, bunched and waving and irregular. In other words, there are enough similarities in design elements and rhythms to relate the two works. Or, rather, to illustrate how Lidgus, whatever the particular piece he's working on, is working from the same intellectual and emotional space, experimenting with integrity from his own soul's stock of material, not working with this finger to the wind.
Andrew Lidgus, In the Privacy of My Mind, wood, paint,
25.5 x 31.5."
NB the three-dimensionality.

Most of the works in this show are built on various types of cardboard or matte board. Lidgus uses these both as his basic support and to raise surfaces, whether they be the minute topographical gradations that we see in Points of View or the semi-circles that dominate the surface on In the Privacy of My MInd. Sometimes he uses corrugated cardboard stripped of the paper layer that usually masks the ripples, so that he benefits from the texture of the paper waves. 

Curators (and purchasers) have to be concerned about the durability of "non-traditional" materials. The other side of the coin is the expressive, poetic aspects of those materials. I've already noted Lidgus's workmanship: He is precise in the use of his everyday materials. Cardboard is allowed its own merits in a dignified way I haven't granted before. I find myself admiring its color, which sometimes appears as gold against black; its hard appearance in one setting and softness in another; the effects possible with whole or partial stripping of the surface from corrugation; its sometimes strength and its aspect when it buckles. Lidgus uses cardboard with the seriousness of a model-maker, of a person who is planning, who is in mid-thought, who is conceiving as he works.

Andrew Lidgus, Conscious, detail. NB stripped
corrugated (with metal screen, nails, wire on

This is my first exposure to Andrew Lidgus, and I find his work fascinating. His composition, colors, and sensibility are classical and hearken back to beautiful moments in Picasso and Matisse as well as to mid-century design. 

But it's his urge to extend mental and material space beyond the usual limits that shows his power. Lifting off to multiple planes without committing to sculpture; finding a way to bring the eye and the ear close together. For Lidgus, proximity isn't a failure to be one or the other, but a unique condition in itself. His works cannot be described or defined as fine art or music; as precious or rough, as sculpture or painting. They are none of these, and they challenge the discussion of art traditions on several levels. 

Duality? This is one concept Lidgus' work seems stoutly to refuse.

Andrew Lidgus, Birdman, matte board, wood, 25.5 x 31.5." How many colors does "black" represent?


  1. Wow Ann. You are a wonderful writer and critical reviewer.
    When I read this critique I felt like you were giving me a personal tour walking through the gallery, offering insight about the artist's intention, the gallery role and referencing how this work fits into art history.
    Thank you! The art world needs you!

    1. Thank you, and thank you for bringing such fascinating artists to us!

  2. ann
    thank you for your review. i appreciate your thoughtful and in depth look at my work and thank you taking the time to critically review and express your thoughts. as an artist i can only hope that the stories i tell through paint, matte board and found objects connect with the ears and spirit of the observer. it warms my heart when one finds that bond. i am grateful.
    andrew lidgus