Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ingrid Mary Percy – Phaze Five – review by Debora Alanna

Ingrid Mary Percy

Phaze Five

8 – 22 May 2014

Polychrome Fine Art

977 – A Fort Street

Victoria BC

Review by Debora Alanna

The poetic act consists of suddenly seeing that an idea splits up into a number of equal motifs and of grouping them; they rhyme.

Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), French Symbolist poet. repr. In Mallarmé: The Poems, ed. and trans. by Keith Bosley (1977). Variations sur un sujet, ‘Crise de Vers,’ La Revue Blanche (Paris, September 1895).

The multiple (that) must be made, not always by adding sobriety; with the number of dimensions one already has available – always n-1 dimensions… A rhizome as subterranean stem… (And) assumes very diverse forms, from ramified surface extension in all directions…

~ Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 7

Phaze Five is Ingrid Mary Percy’s second exhibition at Polychrome Fine Art. The show consists of works on paper and polychromatic wood based sculpture, a hybrid of painted surface and forms, most wall mounted, some free standing. Works in both realms consist of painted planes cut and assembled. Her sculptures often include multi-coloured golf tees. The exhibition title, Phaze Five, was borrowed from the title of a cassette tape by the Steel Pan Mania band. Works are mostly titled Untitled, with song titles from this cassette in parentheses and some with original titles Percy composed. ‘Untitled’ seems to refer to what cannot be named, experiences that are beyond naming. The use of the tape titles in parenthesis is a foray, a means towards the artists’ enterprise, guiding us, fastening us to a possibility within the encounter with her work.

Urban dictionaries describe phaze to mean ‘remove status boosts by way of moves that force a switch’ and ‘insulting someone just for the sake of insulting them and to receive a reaction’. There are a lot of sexual plays involved to obtain the outcomes, potentially in both descriptions of phaze. Five, is ‘high performance’, ‘cool’. The Steel Pan Mania band may have wanted to evoke these urban references. Percy’s association to these references is inadvertent, hit and misses in their connections to her work or the premises seen within the show if they exist at all. Untitled (Right or Wrong) may be contemplated with the sexual implications; however there is nothing crude in Percy’s work. Sexuality is asserted but not with offence implicit in urban street jargon. There are no insults, but this reviewer has been affected, boosted by her assault of colour sense, potency of composition and universal forces that do not ‘switch’ but certainly toggles any complacency to a revving of sensory revelation and approbation of her intuitive disclosure. Reactions, indubitably. So yes, ‘Five’.


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (Right or Wrong)

11.75 x 18”. Arcylic paint & paper. Photo courtesy the artist.

In 1962, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City organized a Symposium on Pop art. Invitees Hilton Kramer, Dore Ashton, Leo Steinberg and Stanley Kunitz panel transcript was published in Arts Magazine, April 1963. Ashton explained how John Cage praised Rauschenberg ‘because he makes no pretense at aesthetic selection.’ The ‘quality of the encounter’ between his choices are not metaphorical but ‘chance encounters in the continuum of random sensation he calls life’. Aston asserted that ‘a voluntary diminution of choices’ enabled artists working in the Pop era the ability to ‘shun metaphor’ that resulted in an ‘impoverished genre’. Chance titling of Percy’s exhibition may seem to give her work a release of responsibility from its original association. In spite of her choice of chance designation, associations are not entirely displaced, albeit the contexts are relational to her practice.

Leo Steinberg in the same 1962 panel said, ‘The artist does not simply make a thing, an artifact, or in the case of Baudelaire, a poem with its own beat and structure of evocation and image. What he creates is a provocation, a particular, unique and perhaps novel relation with reader or viewer.’ Steinberg recalled what Victor Hugo wrote to Baudelaire after reading Les Fleurs du Mal: ‘You create a new shudder.’ Percy’s work is provocation and encourages uncanny relations with viewers of her work. She has indeed created a new shudder because there is an invigorating connectivity, a metaphoric serendipity between the fortuitous titling. Her revelations are a frisson of vivacity.

Percy has revisited her imagery seen on the University of Victoria (UVic) web, reconsidered ideas through shapes in her paper works. Blue Wall, Pink Wall and the processes involved in Yellow Wall, Shaped Tartan from that period are reinvestigated well. Her show at the Deluge Contemporary, Supra in 2005 and her last show at her 2012 Squillo exhibition at Polychrome Fine Art investigated Spirograph images as devices do not appear in this work. Her Squillo exhibition silkscreened overlays included iconographic singers’ portraits, a Pop influence in circular surrounds are absent. The shapes and overlapping is consistent and carried over to Phaze Five’s works on paper. Percy’s interest in circular imagery that she continues to overlay, group and develops within new contexts is married with further shape configurations. She has widened her repertoire, allowing intricacies and complexity to flourish, enabling further symbology and celebration within her visual vocabulary and dialogue. We are confronted by scales of chance colour choices obtained from slicing her student off cast paintings. She imposes her choice selecting strips and colour combinations to deliberately juxtapose. Planar treatments are tested, sometimes asymmetrically for tonal variety. Memorable phasing from one shape to another adjacent or overlaid seem cyclical in the reiteration that is more fugue-like because each shape and positioning is never duplicated. Percy’s specific shape and colour references are relational. She plays, is attuned to ideas within the work. Steps between the works become contrapuntal patterns of behaviour. Circular imagery appears as snowflake cut outs and flower shapes with zigzags and curly cut designs in several current works. Also, stylized female breasts appear in three works.

Untitled (Pax) (the Latin for peace, with a top necklace like string of pearly connected paper on grey paper oviods, a circlet positioned as a necklace with a dovish feathery embellishment, a peace symbol above the large concentric circles below and a cerulean garland beneath the two central ovoids. The larger collaged central entities are circular painted treatments on top of solid, unyielding treatments - black, grey, black, then rosy. The dark under the rose shows breasts heavy with the weight of warring.

Untitled (Duo) is more Pop, more assertive, more let’s bare all declaration and affirmation of exemplified feminine strength.


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (Pax)

18.x 11.75” Acrylic paint & paper. Photo courtesy the artist.


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (Duo)

18.x 11.75” Acrylic paint & paper. Photo courtesy the artist.

Concentric circles and other entopic patterns has been a visual tool since cave paintings. Late in the 19th century, Hilma af Klint employed abstracted geometry including circular investigations, exploring the ideal formations and its premises through interrogatory paintings (although af Klint denied questioning) before Wassily Kandinsky painted Seven Circles. Feminist texts, such as the Woman's Art Journal, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Autumn, 1998 - Winter, 1999) containing the The Pink Glass Swan: Selected Essays on Feminist Art by Lucy Lippard speaks about the female experience in relation to concentric circles. Circles, concentric circles are a pervasive archetype in Phaze Five. Percy’s work dwells in lyric confrontations. She employs deep whimsy and spirited connectivity throughout her world. We see a conscientious nod to feminist forbearers while Percy maintains her own vision, embodying, in the Piet Mondrian sensibility, universality. (let’s transpose Mondrian’s use of noun/pronoun in this excerpt of his writing...)

The cultivated man of today is gradually turning away from natural things and his life is becoming more and more abstract. Natural (external) things become more and more automatic and we observe that our vital attention fastens more and more on internal things. The life of the truly modern man is neither purely materialist nor purely emotional. It manifests itself rather as a more autonomous life of the human mind becoming conscious of itself. Modern man – although a unity of body, mind and soul – exhibits a changed consciousness: every expression of his life has today a different aspect, that is, an aspect more positively abstract. It is the same with art. Art will become the product of another duality in man: the product of a cultivated externality and of an inwardness deepened and more conscious. As a pure representation of the human mind, art will express itself in an aesthetically purified, that is to say, abstract form. The truly modern artist is aware of abstraction in an emotion of beauty; he is conscious of the fact that the emotion of beauty is cosmic, universal. This conscious recognition has for its corollary an abstract plasticism, for man adheres only to what is universal.

~ Natural Reality and Abstract Reality, Piet Mondrian, 1919.

Cutting paper has enjoyed an ancient and enduring tradition. Paper cutting, cutting to form to provide the viewer with a drawing/painting-like experience, has existed since paper and scissors/tools to incise paper existed, allowing the discipline to flourish worldwide for centuries, conveyed into contemporary art practices -20th and 21st century collage artists (too many to mention), notwithstanding:

· China since 200 BC;

· Monkiri (antiquated) by the Japanese after the 10th century;

· 13th century medieval Europe paper cutting /collage;

· Mary Delany’s (and undoubtedly others) decoupage in the 18th century;

· 19th century book covers (Carl Spitweg i.e., et al.), utilized collage;

· Paper cutting by Mexicans in the papel picado style;

· German paper cut art -scherenschnitte, areknippen;

· Netherlands, guajian;

· Polish paper cuts – wycinanki;

· Psaligraphy, paper cut silhouette

Percy’s shapes are cut, overlaid and glued to paper or wood, embracing the decoupage tradition.


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (I’ll be with you)

18.x 11.75” Acrylic paint & paper. Photo courtesy the artist.

Untitled (I’ll be with you) is a winter white ground with unexpected florals, ovoids and two coloured snowflakes. All cut outs of painted surfaces form quite separate and distinct from the other. Percy dances summery memories on rime. The absence of coalescence is striking, aside from the inventive, albeit arbitrary painted surfaces that are later delineated similarly. Comparable flower shapes offer solo harmonics. Yet they play together in harmonious colour whimsy. Seasonal referencing is reinforced with the familiar shapes stuck to the picture plane as itinerant memories segregated and distinct, dominating the work. The painted colours are muted and differential. Each a disconnected experience is jumbled, non sequential in the remembering. Striated oviods are bubbles of demarcated time, unevenly filled with unrelated painted sections, recognizable as human experience in the way that memories coexist. In some, the remembering is not quite intact, divided, broken. An innocence of simplified shapes hearkens to the incorruptibility of hope as individual floating joy bubbles, memorable notes. This work shows the unqualified acceptance of another’s connection the way musicians trust another player to perform individuality for the other’s benefit, requiring conviction in mutual goals to obtain concert, unity.

Visual refrains in unique mandala shapes/notes – a different shape for each mantra/note quality conceded. A little reluctance exists in the bemused hodgepodge. The layout of the work shows a need for affirmation that individuals accomplish when playing off each other with a recurring effervesce. Because of the repeat of stripes, improvisational within modest shapes placed in various directions, multidimensional, a flexible rhythmic understructure, the snowflake duad and the complementary instrumentation performed by various parts / thoughts plays leggier (lightly/delicately), beguiles as indefinite pitches. Expectant optimism aspires imperturbably.


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (Mania)

5.62 x 3.62”. Acrylic paint & paper. Photo courtesy the artist

Jazzy in its sophistication, improvisational rhythm and bright zaniness, the above work is seemingly uncomplicated, enchanting in its decorous straightforwardness. However, the work is possessed with tense confrontations. Percy combines the striae found in her sculptures, a heady hard-edged abstraction of reason above left and hovering as the dominating rigour of sound advice. Concentric circles referring to femininity (3rd work with this specific reference) and personal vision are presented as pale blue orbs dotted with yellow areolas punctuated with obsessively precise black tips. These orbs are outlets and instruments that couples the viewer to the work. She expounds with light and darkness of being within the context of orbital paths we inhabit, paths that might seem to coexist with the help of the misshapen, complicated floral adornment and enhancement. Percy’s arrangement holds worlds together that somewhat entraps in its assertive charm.

Coral points of diversion and perspicacity, sharp multiplex incisions appear warm amid serious twinkles diagonally placed to moderate transversely, inducing insight. These flowers accompany Percy’s cut shapes that are straightforwardly Matisse contours beside and below the picture plane. Percy unapologetically emulates Matisse’s Jazz oeuvre created with scissors. Untitled (Mania) encompasses overgrown desire, passion overcoming individuality, an impediment to see beyond the cacophony of growth. This ground is dark, inferring that she is portraying an unconscious or subconscious state of existence. A corrupted ovoid between leaf and leafy climb connects physically with the doubled/mirrored trapezoid shape above, with a shared colour intervention. These two contrary shapes are two parts of survival, motivation and the diminutive but important niggle and naissance perpetually egging us on in continual interaction, complementary in their difference, although an awkward relationship.

In all Percy’s paper works we see a device for making or breaking or changing connections. Her light hearted exuberance allows patterns to present as archetypes which may be misconstrued as decorative. Eva Hesse stressed the censorious implications of the word decorative in her 1970 interview with Cindy Nemser, published in Artforum, 1970: ‘To me that word, or the way I use it or feel about it, is the only art sin.’ Associating Percy’s work with decorative results is a transgression, although she utilizes the parallel lines that Hesse included in her remarks on the subject. Like Hesse, Percy repeats forms to emphasise, to articulate absurdity with patterns of behaviour. Combinations of qualities, tendencies form a consistent or characteristic arrangement. Percy’s work shows that in her practice, like Hesse, art, work and life are connected. Percy takes risks because her work is perceptual structure, including not only objects (shapes), but the spaces between them making complex compositions of knowledge as elements and their combinations. And like Hesse, Percy’s work explores, articulates ‘the unknown factor of art and the unknown factor of life’.[1] Nothing decorative here. We are witness to motives, the epitome of origins that gives us a means to decipher the strands of life and art.

Each of Percy’s paper works are redolent with unspoken poetic staging of the human experiential exposé all rendered with indiscriminately painted grounds the way life is beyond planning. Vibrant and engaging, we observe reflection through the shapes and fragments she cuts and positions to ease the understanding of existence. Percy’s paper works sing vociferously about what scores and patterns us, lifts us, holds us in place. She allows us to emote within the discreet opera of her blithe ingenuity under the guise of inveterate, enduring motifs embracing the familiar where connectivity deliberates intention.

Victory Over the Sun, a 1913 Russian Futurist Opera with sets and costumes designed by Kasimir Malevich, includes the libretto in ‘Zaum’ language by Aleksei Kruchonykh, which he coined. Zaum is ‘made up of the Russian prefix ‘beyond, behind’ and noun the mind, nous’ and has been translated as ‘transreason’, ‘transration’ or ’beyonsense’ ‘by Paul Schmidt. According to scholar Gerald Janecek, Zaum can be defined as ‘experimental poetic language characterized by indeterminacy in meaning.’ [2] Percy has developed a transreasonal vocabulary of shapes, a kind of Zaum of organic poetics and probable congruous vocabulary.

These lines might refer, point by point, to the self-regulating capacities of a brain, to the emanations of a divine pleroma, to the operating procedures of an information network, or to a secret cipher.

~ K., Roberto Calasso, Jonathan Cape, London, 2005, pg. 252

Protect yourself better
protect yourself wanderer

with the road that is walking too.

~ The Sonnets to Orpheus, Appendix (Fragments), Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Stephen Mitchell, Simon and Schuster, N.Y., 1985, pg. 155

Percy has developed an oeuvre employing painted strips collaged on the face of wood and impaled works with multi-coloured golf tees reminiscent of n'kisi (also known as minkisis [3]) from the Kongo, although Percy’s bodies are variable abstracted shapes. The n’kisi entities hold the powers of ancestors and allow a moral rightness to be asserted. ‘The metal objects commonly pounded into the surface of the power figures represent the minkisis' active roles during ritual or ceremony. Each nail or metal piece represents a vow, a signed treaty and efforts to abolish evil. Ultimately, these figures most commonly represent reflections upon socially unacceptable behaviours and efforts to correct them.[4] Percy’s work with tees with additional direction from her titles expounds concisely expressed precepts, assertive views without question though always open to interpretation.

Ichiro Irie, Hyoungseok Kimand and others have employed golf tees in their work. What is unique about Percy’s use of the tees is they drive rhythmically, boldly as colour punctuation, analogous of dynamic accents, breath marks, censura, staccato/markato symbols within music scores. Strips and tees are utilized in distinct compositions for each piece. The stripes of mismatched bounding lines are cut and placed in the mostly the same direction on each piece – some work in a vertical direction, some diagonal. Other works include painted cut out shapes that are overlaid with swatches or shapes of paper, sometimes crumpled. Each work has a unique configuration of contour and has predominantly smoothly sanded sides to discreetly reveal the plywood layers. Again, the titles are Untitled, with the music cassette titles employed as parenthesised additions to the work description.

Artists using strips of colour as compositional devices are abundant - Genn Thomas, Cardy Ryman, for example. Many employ panel painting with overlaid shapes including Richard Tuttle, Rauschenberg. Reiner Ruthenbeck’s Moebel (strips of dark red cloth on a steel wire netting box on stilts) and his Ash heap (ashes, wire, 92 iron sticks) seen in the 2014 Venice Biennale is a two part installation with strips and impaling points. The means is not the absolute way as others have employed similar or the same materials, treatments etc, each artist speaking through their own touch, their own thought processes that become evident in their work. Percy’s work is quintessentially unique, expounding patterns of existence derived from our collective experience as accessible presence.


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (Ouch)

3 x 3.5 x .88”. Acrylic paint, wood & golf tees.

Titled as an interjection or a clasp for a brooch or pin, buckle, a setting for jewels - all of these ideas work for Untitled (Ouch). Pain and surprise of sharp corners descending up and down a little jaggedly from a continuous plane, topped with the force of impalement, even if the colourful commitment is slyly appealing is an imposition on normalcy. Change hurts. A little jewel, tees fastened and set caching the buckle shape, we clasp our eyes to this multifaceted gem. Four tees for forthright assertiveness. Smarting pleasure quadrupled.


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (Lying Excuses)

12 x 7 x 1.75”.Acrylic paint, wood & golf tees.

Photo courtesy the artist.

‘In an oblique shot, also called a Dutch angle, the camera is tilted laterally on a tripod so it is no longer parallel with the horizon. The oblique shot takes the straight lines of the world and presents them as diagonals. This type of shot is generally used to give an overwhelming sense of the world’s being unbalanced or out of kilter. One of the classic employments of the oblique angle is in Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949), a mystery set in post-World War 11 Vienna. The tilted shot is largely responsible for the film’s overall sense of a world in which human values and actions are distorted.’ [5]

Untitled (Lying Excuses) is set askew. Although this work and like works in this exhibition are not directly related to photography, Percy utilizes the tilting technique described above, first seen in a 1919 film, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, then called the German angle, a devise often employed in German expressionist paintings. This works well in Percy’s piece to accentuate the pertinent content discerned through the title, Untitled (Lying and Excuses), angst that occurs with human foible of deceit. Left inclined black and white pegs, points to obdurate extremes where compromise is impossible. These rivaling opinions are relegated to the tip side, the tees weighing the slant. Swatches of golden sharp flat nuggets pasted on the main lines of inquiry are disruptions of rough cut disoriented squares, imperatives as impediments to the paths of parallel action, long thin deliberations. Dark blue, mostly with tinges of green are interpolate with heavy pink painted strips, a vis-a-vis conversation follow the lengths of sharp, irregularly pointed wood ends, spiky retorts that are sent off the far end of reason.


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (Always Be You)

12 x 12 x 1.75”. Acrylic paint, wood & golf tees.

Photo courtesy the artist.

Untitled (Always Be You) tilts also, but more, as if the extra tilting to Untitled (Lying Excuses) is to be offset, disputed or contradicted, as humans do to argue against, challenge emphatically one controversial characteristic or event that is in opposition to refute and stress an obstinate emotion or thought in an adamant fashion. This work has the tees congregating on the top in two camps, groupings of what is at stake within two points of view. Both clusters attempt to be somewhat upright and seem to adjust for the sake of the whole (work). The lengths of strips are more staggered in length, confidence wavering and reactivating, vibrantly interplaying as requisite needs dazzle when felt, displayed in rapid succession. Untitled (Always Be You) is dynamic affirmation considered in this scenario, which is intense, leans farther towards a change of direction. Contrary to the look anger and disappointment detailed in the previous work, this is the expression of compromise, self assertion, the need for leaning forward to an earnest entreat that upholds integrity. Percy includes rutting in upholding, but segregating contrary stubborn points of view (tees). Championing autonomy (for the plural or singular ‘you’ – either/both) is a serrated and abounding enterprise.


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (Paradise)

10 x 11.5 x 1.75”. Acrylic paint, wood.

Photo courtesy the artist.

Untitled (Paradise) is a self contained island without the impervious tees. This paradise is mottled with infelicity. The swatches blend uncomfortably with the strips and do not strictly follow the formal lines most other works adhere to, some awry. Percy’s composition is an organic island shape, an ideal circumspect corps, a germ of a willful idea where the essential but imperfect paradise originates.


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (Sea, Water & Sand)

10.75 x 6.5 x 1.75”. Acrylic paint, wood & golf tees.

Photo courtesy the artist.

Untitled (Sea, Water & Sand) refers to the details of beach topography. The sunny vertical strip, reflectively compliments and enlivens colour on the other verticals, variable consequences extending off the main formation, longer looks, extra stretches exploring the spell of the place. A large divided swatch of watery blue intensity evokes a concentrated tract of water, tides of divided time. In the title, (sea), a precise type of water, induces the viewer to think broadly and then specifically (water), the specificity of a personal encounter. Imagining going somewhere and then being where you decided to go might be a comparison to Percy’s piece experience. She evokes sand and frolic where the background merges with lives envisioning and experiencing happy repose. Tees gather to the lower right as hours marked, days passing and counted, holding the enchantment constrained to measure, off centre and slightly hidden from the main imagery but noticeable nevertheless. We must handle what is never enough time when you are planning or having fun.


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (In Your Face) - REVERSO


Ingrid Mary Percy: Untitled (In Your Face)

9.25 x 6.25 x 3”. Acrylic paint, wood & golf tees.

Photo courtesy the artist.

Kierkegaard shows that the plane of the infinite, which he calls the plane of faith, must become a pure plane of immanence that continually and immediately imparts, reimpartsand regathers the finite… Perception will no longer reside in the relation between a subject and an object, but rather in the movement serving as the limit of that relation, in the period associated with the subject and object. Perception will confront its own limit; it will be in the midst of things, throughout its own proximity, as the presence of one haecceity in another, the prehension of one by the other or the passage from one to the other: Look only at the movements.

~ Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 311

The nkisi figures brought back to Europe in the nineteenth century in particular caused great interest in stimulating emerging trends in modern art and African themes previously considered primitive or ugly were now viewed as aesthetically interesting. The pieces became influential in art circles and many were acquired by art museums. The intentions of the banganga who created minkisi were practical, that is their characteristics were dictated by the need of the object to do the work it was required to do—hence the nails which caused a sensation were never seen as decorative items but as a requirement of awakening the spirit; or the gestures were part of a substantial metaphor of gestures found in Kongo culture.

~ Wyatt MacGaffey, ‘'Magic, or as we usually say 'Art': A Framework for Comparing African and European Art,’ in Enid Schildkrout and Curtis Keim, eds. The Scramble for Art in Central Africa, (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998) pp. 217-235.

Percy’s work featured on the poster for the Phaze Five exhibition is Untitled (In Your Face). Protruding reversed tees are jagged, edgy, change course or direction. Tees are driven into the work with unrestrained irregularity around the elliptic edges, except for the bottom of the work, withstanding enough. The front of the work has tees pounded in a central gathering. The painted strips are vertical with a slight incline. Tees on the sides are intractable contravention, wilfully wayward, a frenzied tenacious infringing as fringe. The central nogs are concave top revealed and point, bottoms up connected by an assembly of the forms as a central headstrong configuration, a wholly charismatic termination and departure correspondence.

The title, Untitled (In Your Face) shares the work’s provocative stance. The tee treatment is not un coup d’épingle, (policy of pin pricks) where trifling hostile acts spurs conflict. Percy’s response to whatever is contrary, too close for comfort is the interchange between coursing tees that are substantial in relation to the size of the work and the vertical bands. Distinguishing this piece is the hold by the tees’ lack of symmetry contrary to firm perpendicular painted sliced bars, a combatant force integrated with formidable candour. Like the n’kisi figures’ nails, Percy’s tees instigate a metaphorical awakening to cogency inducing intensive vigilance in the viewer where complacency is impossible. Geometry of parallel lines intensifies clarity in their relentlessness. Percy engages the viewer with her combinations of surfaces, forms and their behaviours in this moving exchange. Percy’s Untitled (In Your Face) confronts us and we pay attention.

Associating Percy’s work to fetish named and claimed by cultures imposing colonialism is flawed. Sexual transference to objects as Freud began to emphasize in the 20s, calling objects fetishes - charms that fascinate or lure as a substitute for human parts is an erroneous comparison to Percy’s work. Any inadvertent comparison the artist had with the original intent of n’kisi is possible with the intent of Percy’s work. There is a similar power to cultural objects used to connect with ancestral prowess that Percy’s work evokes akin to the primal need to connect with life forces. With the many varied strips, the boarders and central placement of contentious attack, the tees are valid arguments, though a central bewilderment at the heart of the piece and ever present mantle of challenging conflict.

Early 20th Century artists appropriated the imagery from African artifacts to address their own need for mystical or braver ideas. Recombinant ideas, not appropriation is present in this exhibition. Phaze Five. shows there is a primal need to address the multiple plateaus of understanding. Percy addresses fundamental aspects of humanity with a hybrid of media, of materials and quotidian forms, of painting and sculpture, found and fashioned work. Her ideas are melody and discord together. Diverse and extensive, Percy’s Phaze Five amalgams rollick.

Recesses exist on the back of Percy’s works. An unintentional reference to the n'kisi entities, although uncannily analogous, these enclaves become a receding part of the work, an indent to suspend or defer or direct the viewer’s connection with the world, redefining the relationship from observer to physical interaction. N'kisi apertures are often frontal, but not always.

Secret and secluded on the back of this work (and others), a small round hollow is available for placing something in the recess. The observer would not know that this secluded indentation is available without the artist demonstrating its existence. However, once it is known, one defers interest in the front of the work. Curiosity and intrigue takes hold, a private adventurous possibility. There is no cover to the small round opening. A pause from the work to reverse its content enables a sculpture in the round, becomes a personal choice (what shall I put here?); a directive and a direction availed by the artist. The artist acts as intermediary between the work and the viewer. We become included in the work as we must decide if we are going to acknowledge the niche or not, even if we own the work and can put something within its space. Knowing is a current of interpolation.

In his address, ‘Experimental Music’ given to the Music Teachers National Association convention in Chicago in 1957, John Cage said, referring to composing parts with multi-tracked tapes and machines and how the listener is ‘not concerned with harmoniousness as generally understood, where the quality of harmony results from a blending of several elements, points where fusion occurs are many (...) This disharmony, to paraphrase Bergson’s statement about disorder, is simply a harmony to which many are unaccustomed.’ Cage’s presentation culminated in an answer to questions he posed, ‘Where do we go from here?’ He was referring to sound, music and composition. He suggested ‘theatre’. However, his additional response to his own question as a suggestion is applicable to all art practices: ‘...the answer must take the form of paradox: a purposeful purposelessness or a purposeless play. This play, however, is an affirmation of life – not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and one’s desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.’ [6]

Percy’s Phaze Five works live within the realm of the Cagean Silent Prayer (s) where meditation and contemplation are brought forward in her ‘transbeyond’ entreaties, illuminating and expounding on universal experiences providing a lyric visual capitulation. Percy’s oeuvre acknowledges the playful, theatrical as studies in projected dissonance, disharmony of media that resolves to sonorous introspection, the cacophony and subtly of colour, of hard abstraction contrapuntal to curves. Indescribable cut surfaces and curvaceous shapes blended with precise strict compositional stripes and intuitively gathered tees disrupt and emit enthusiastic voluble clusters of evidence that one must puncture the status quo to articulate alliances. Interposing assertions and enigma within juxtaposed and cooperative existences articulates the paradox of living.

Percy’s show is alert and lively. Each of these works thrives playfully beyond desirousness and mindfulness. She drives and holds questions about the quintessential human experience with dramatic, celebratory aplomb, to a tee. Percy’s exhibition, Phaze Five is a steelpan carnival.

[1] Eva Hesse in conversation with Cindy Nemser (1970). Artforum 1970. Copyright © Cindy Nemser.

[2] Janecek, Gerald. Zaum: The Transrational Poetry of Russian Futurism. San Diego: San Diego State University Press, 1996:  ISBN 978-1879691414

[3] Jan Vansina, Paths in the Rainforest: Toward a History of Political Tradition in Equatorial Africa (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990), p. 146 and 297; but see also Vansina's corrective statements in How Societies Are Born: Governance in West Central Africa Before 1600 (Charlottesville, VA and London: University of Virginia Press, 2004), pp. 51-52.

[4] ‘The Metropolitan Museum of Art’. Power Figure (Nkisi N'Kondi: Mangaaka).

[5] Mamer, Bruce (2008). ’Oblique Shot (Dutch Angle)’. Film Production Technique: Creating the Accomplished Image. Belmont: Cengage Learning. p. 9.

[6] John Cage, ‘Experimental Music’ from Silence. © 1973 by John Cage, Wesleyan University Press. 

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