Like a biology lab run by a Surrealist, this show demonstrates the mind of the artist at its most provocative. Splicing, cloning and combining her found images with haunting poetic skill, Kolodziejski has produced a radical new body of work. She has chosen both support and imagery that provoke myriad associations to our rapidly changing notion of the manipulation of nature.
The works in "Specimens" mark a major breakthrough for Cindy Kolodziejski. In her previous pieces, the familiar domestic vessel (vase, tureen, or teapot) was transformed by the addition of unusual narrative imagery that often juxtaposed incongruous themes. The forms were altered by the inclusion of strange feet and handles, or the grafting of Victorian finials above a vase with a claw-footed base. In this show of seven new works, however, the artist has used the forms of vintage laboratory equipment to display foreboding and disturbing new images. Where she once presented more conventional ceramic vessels with provocative pictures, Kolodziejski's images now seem to be contained in a laboratory beaker of the mind.
The new works are supported by the same stands used in a classic chemistry lab. With base, adjustable rod, and clamp, these armatures held separatory funnels in an earlier life. Now, transformed with automobile lacquers and other industrial finishes, they are scaffold and clasp for specimens in a strange brew. Not content to alter the glass equipment alone, the artist adds finials to the stoppers and grafts amphibian tails onto the stopcocks.
As a painter she does not consider flat surface and rectangular format. Instead, she deals with the complex constraints of a curvaceous container, which only intensifies the difficulty of foreshortening. Although she frequently has used the juxtaposition of figurative images to compose her narrative, Kolodziejski has also employed the pictorial device of continuous panorama. In this show, both are in evidence. A third type of composition has been added—the overlay of images, one on top of another.
The ideas layered within Cindy Kolodziejski's work, often conveyed through photographs taken from medical textbooks or mundane magazines, have included oppositions such as animal and vegetable. In this new work, the use of overlaid images begins to meld the ideas in a surreal pool of simultaneity. This concept is evident in one of the works where the artist has painted a frog on top of a sectional slice of a diseased brain.
The skeletal pelvis of a dog, elongated and distorted to conform to the shape of the separatory funnel, has a history within Kolodziejki's work. A work from 1995, titled "Twins Teapot" depicted the skeleton of Siamese twins on one side, with two lilies branching from the same stalk on the other. The "Untitled" work from 2001 (pictured on this announcement) has a strange similarity, and combines a leafy fern-like image (which also resembles a ribcage) with the skeleton.
These works resonate even more as the daily news of biotechnology appears. Cindy Kolodziejski combines her painstaking painting with unusual form to provoke the viewer. Her vision and brilliance alter out perceptions, and the lingering associations reverberate.