September 21 - October 27, 2018
It is with pleasure that Corbett vs. Dempsey announces Everlast, a two person exhibition by Celeste Rapone and Betsy Odom. This is CvsD’s first show with the artists.
culptor Betsy Odom works in common materials – leather, in particular, but also fabric, cork, plywood, strapping, grommets, foam, and underwear elastic. A magician of the quotid- ian, she fabricates articles of clothing, often sports-related gear, gently but persuasively undoing their overdetermined cultural associations and rebuilding them from square one. A pair of gym shorts, “Gym Shorts,” for instance, stands on its own, rigid, caught in motion, perhaps conjuring athletic clothing that’s been left in the locker too long, but also offering a host of beautiful mahogany bumps and curves, its perfectly tooled surface as sensuous as it is uncanny. The catcher’s mitt of “Bulldog 10” carries a lesbian-centric visual pun, while the exquisite detailing on a black dog glove, lined with shearling wool, on “Schutzhund Glove,” has a latent intimation of BDSM. Odom’s objects are humorous, but rigorous. Like H.C. Westermann, her meticulousness of craftsmanship is always at the service of the artistic idea, be it conceptual or aesthetic. Two immaculate, eye-fooling articles of footwear, “Birken- stock” and “Doc” (a bedazzling Doc Marten) show the range, from patchouli to punk
Celeste Rapone’s paintings share Odom’s commitment to the everyday, but where Odom’s work always insinuates an absent human, Rapone hides her figures in complex, often labyrinthine compositions. Narrative, situational paintings, they are portraits of singular women (and a few men), or pairs of figures, in some thematically specific context drawn from a job or activity, unfamiliar to Rapone, that she might do if she fails as a painter. Arms and legs are convoluted into impossible shapes, hints of flesh showing where the body is but clothes and objects obscuring the integrity of the being. In “Everlast,” a boxer’s gloves arch up from the bottom of the canvas, a checkered ring swallowing the torso; “Girl Friday” features an office worker depicted from a low perspective made more claustrophobic by a drop ceiling. In “Working,” a red-faced woman in work boots strains over her Thighmaster, a ruler slyly assessing progress at painting’s bottom. These elements are all executed with sensitivity to facture, surfaces exuding painterly life, patterns pushing hard against organic forms. The large “Big Reach” finds two rock climbers working a wall; their physiques are shaped by their task to the point that they are turned in on themselves, even as one of them holds aloft a cell phone for a selfie. Playful and at times darkly sociological, these paintings are spectacular concatenations of light and limb, bittersweet caricatures of ambition and defeat, and most of all intricate constructions of pigment and form.