Artists Piece Together A Beast
Regal Beast, a senior studio and thesis show by Paul “Corwin” Lamm and Camilla Padgitt-Coles, opened last Friday in Fisher Hall. The show presented a focused and professional presentation of drawings, paintings and installations that seemed to emerge from an elusive, ethereal and uncanny creative process. The majority of works on display included the eponymous Regal Beast I – XII series of pen and ink drawings. Each number of the series included four drawings composed in a square with a background frame of maroon red painted on the gallery wall.
Lamm and Padgitt-Coles explained in an interview the spontaneous genesis of this series of “hole drawings” as a game they adopted from a friend. The two would work through another sheet of paper with a hole cut through and draw without seeing the complete work underneath until they mutually decided the drawing was finished.
Their sophisticated and nuanced drawing displayed an understanding of surface and line that produced a gallery full of peculiar figures and forms with organic allusions that were both strange and arresting. Since they could not see the entire drawing as they worked, the artists were focused on the intuitive and psychological process of collaboration.
Though they concentrated on patterns, textures and the kinds of marks they made on the paper, both artists realized that “choosing a certain type of mark, instead of thinking about what it looked like” produced images with potent and protean associations. The perceived depth and volume of the drawings was produced by “merging each other’s types of marks and lines,” creating variations in rhythm and density across the surface of the paper and highlighting the concentrated collaboration between their individual hands.
The other collaborative drawing in the show, also titled “Regal Beast,” was nearly twice the size of the individual members in the larger series. Though the figurative forms of the larger series floated and moved in the white space of the paper, most viewers labeled this recent work a fantastical and ephemeral landscape.
The two other works in the show were done by the artists separately, forming different yet striking complements to the collaborative works.
Lamm’s pair of oil paintings, “Shazaam,” allowed subtle and painterly effects to control a delicate and focused wash of colors across the surface. Padgitt-Coles’s installation, “Red Hole,” had an elongated nook that placed a throbbing unknown life form, red and incredibly detailed, behind a pinhole view at the end of the darkened hallway. The form was composed from over twenty variations of screen-printed pattern on organic shapes.
The strange and beautiful world of Regal Beast was complemented by a sonic landscape of National Aeronautics and Space Administration recordings made in outer space, underscoring the living process of working in obsessive collaboration with the physical processes of creating visual form.
When asked in detail about their work and collaboration, Lamm recounted a pointed dream in which the forms from their drawings began to merge with one another until they burst from his stomach in a kind of surreal birth. The anecdote speaks strongly to the many responses the artists spoke about.
“Some people asked if they were based on ‘real’ things, one girl recognizing various forms of biological organisms she had studied in biology, with others saying they saw neurons, tumors and even molecules,” said Padgitt-Coles.
Regal Beast was an exploratory investigation through the unconscious world of living, organic forms and spontaneous generation that fuse through the mystery of the unexplored and unknown around us.
Both Padgitt-Coles and Lamm felt that all of the work presented expressed their interest in the use of surface to realize the play of optics and depth, something directly expressed in the window framing of Regal Beast I – XII.
The apparent obsessiveness of their works’ refined minutiae was contained by the dual compromise with materials and the “organic and gentler sense that settles in during collaboration…which helps you let go and try new things,” said Lamm.