Magazine article Artforum International

Nicola Lopez: Irvine Contemporary Art

Magazine article Artforum International

Nicola Lopez: Irvine Contemporary Art

Article excerpt

The engagingly chaotic drawings exhibited recently by Nicola Lopez pose a disturbing question: What happens if technology supplants nature and develops the ability to evolve? Lopez is one of the scores of New York-based artists currently getting a career boost from their inclusion in P.S. I Contemporary Art Center's expansive "Greater New York 2005." Her first show at Irvine Contemporary Art featured five ink, gouache, and graphite drawings and one somber print in which she ponders the possible consequences of a contemporary urban addiction to new technology. Devoid of human presence, the world she depicts is overrun by an anarchic tangle of pipes, ductwork, telephone lines, satellite dishes, vehicle parts, oil rigs, tires, and batteries that meet, mate, and mutate.

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In each of Lopez's tableaux, familiar human structures--houses, neighbor-hoods, whole cities--are rendered subordinate to machines. Puny and defenseless, they're almost obliterated by the technological maelstrom that surrounds them. As in Escher, perspectives are tilted and rotated; disorientation is the norm; and unadulterated nature virtually disappears. The multicolored but muted drawings feel darkly conspiratorial--depictions of a cabalistic technological force comprising selfish, omnivorous mechanical mutants who metastasize unchecked across a despoiled landscape.

Lopez's handling of her chosen media is deft and authoritative, making the experience of reading each landscape more like a controlled roller-coaster ride than the head-on crash it could have been. Emerging from multiple acute perspectives, characters writhe, snake, spew, thrust, stretch, and contort across the picture plane. Reticular piping coils through portions of Tailspin (all works 2005), recalling Louise Bourgeois's skein drawings, while ductwork vomits up a miasma evocative of Ralph Steadman's blood-and-guts illustrations. …

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