Sunday, January 15, 2012

Neva Mikulicz at Anya Tish

by Robert Boyd

Neva Mikulicz combines drawing and video in a very witty way. Her drawings depict scenes that are ordinary, even banal. The video may or may not offer an ironic comment on the drawing, but what takes the viewer by surprise is the way Mikulicz combines the two media.

Neva Mikulicz, Those Naughty Neighbors, prismacolor pencil on Pastelboard, 1 minute video loop, DVD player, 2011

In this piece Those Naughty Neighbors, the drawn part is a kitchen scene, perhaps from the 50s or 60s. Husband wears his hair in a flattop style and the fixtures look new but old-fashioned. A scene of domestic life in a particular moment in our history. But through the window, we see a video that appears to be a stag reel of some sort. It seems to have a similar vintage as the drawn scene, but is somewhat naughty (R-rated in today's terms). The contrast, between the wholesome domestic scene and stag video, is easy irony. It must have seemed exciting and fresh when Richard Hamilton did it in 1956 with Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?, but it is pretty old hat now. But what I like about this piece is the combination of video and drawing, which I found humorous and delightful.

Most of the pieces were like this--a small video screen is embedded into a drawing. And on opening night, it seemed as if several of the videos weren't working, which was a bummer--but it does give me an excuse to revisit the show.

There were also pieces where the video was projected onto the drawing. These seemed to be more about fooling the eye, which they did very well.

Neva Mikulicz, The Hottest Babe, prosmacolor pencil on pastelboard, 1 min 40 sec video loop, 2011

When the video fades away, the viewer is initially surprised by the integration of the drawing and the video image. But I think what we have is this carefree image--the brilliant blue water, the girl on the beach, the changing sand-drawings (a martini glass, the words "Get Lost"), that changes into something more pensive. The drawing without the video is grey, the girl is no longer looking out over a blue ocean at the horizon, but is now starring into an indistinct grey space, as if she were watching a fog bank come in.

Again, this combination of video and drawing is more likely to strike one as clever and humorous than profound. I enjoyed it and plan to take a second look when I get the opportunity.This exhibit is up at Anya Tish Gallery through February 11.


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