Magazine article Artforum International

Kate Costello: Laxart

Magazine article Artforum International

Kate Costello: Laxart

Article excerpt

Kate Costello

LAXART

Drawing has a directness and immediacy capable of revealing an artist's thought process and, over time, formal development. It can document aesthetic mutability and demonstrate technical acumen, all the while circumventing the baggage of painting or sculpture. Kate Costello's recent exhibition--simply titled "Drawing"--which included nine fabric applique works; a sculpture in paper, cement, and steel; and an artist's book, was less concerned with draftsmanship than with the conceptual, linguistic, and symbolic possibilities of drawing. And for an artist well versed in sculpture, video, photography, and painting, the emphasis on medium seemed a significant jumping-off point for a new body of work.

At LAXART, Costello abandoned her typically liberal use of color in favor of black and maroon vinyl sewn onto white canvas grounds. Each of the nine textile works contained a scattering of pictograms or seemingly random emojis in silhouette. Cactus drawing, 2015, for example, encompasses, among other icons, a cactus, a rabbit, some Matisse-like stars, a cartoon eyeball, the word nah, the number 5, and a chess pawn. Mouths drawing, 2014, depicts six black crudely rendered lips, and OK drawing, 2014--the lone maroon composition in the bunch--depicts a hand making the "OK" sign. These compositions, which combine elements of sign language, graffiti, Pop art, shadow puppets, branding (think of the Comme des Garmons heart with eyes), and graphic design, seemed like overdetermined attempts to communicate some undecipherable language. Installed in a grid on the wall, the works did together evoke a unified visual system, yet one that appeared to be based on naive imaginings rather than a complex vernacular. …

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