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Art

Gallery International Group Show

By Mike Giuliano | Posted 12/11/2002

Group Show

Gallery International through Dec. 22

Gallery International has been living up to its name since opening last spring. A mini-United Nations of sorts, it brings contemporary art from around the world to its North Charles Street address. The current group exhibit is a typically eclectic assortment in which not every piece succeeds, and certainly some pieces don't get along very well with their neighbors, but, as with the United Nations, you're exposed to cultures and styles that make for lively company.

If this relatively new gallery has a single

strength, it seems to be in showing sculpturally inclined artists who call your attention both to the materials they use and the social messages they convey. The most interesting artist in the current show, for instance, is Chinese-born Rebecca Szeto, who uses such mundane and deceptively simple materials as rubber gloves and paint brushes to form the basis of her work.

Szeto's two wall-mounted pairs of gloves (pictured) look like they've done a lot of domestic work. Their abraded rubbery "skin" is made to seem all the rougher by the intricately patterned white lace sewn at the base of each pair. It's a strange juxtaposition that becomes less jarring on further consideration. Think about the expectations traditionally made of women to do housework and then dress up like human adornments for social events.

Other striking pieces include Uruguayan sculptor Cecilia Miguez's bronze "Boat on a Carriage," which presents an extremely slender woman wearing a boatlike form and riding a carriage; it evokes both Egyptian funerary sculpture and the streamlined, metaphor-laden work of Alberto Giacometti, like his 1950 "The Chariot."

Also have a look at Spanish artist Jorge Barbi's three close-up photographs of bird dropping-stained cliffs in Argentina. They look like shit, to be blunt, but the brownish squiggles also resemble such things as running human figures. Think of them as a kind of Rorschach test.

The exhibited assortment of abstract paintings, meanwhile, is a mixed bag, including such entries as American Craig Stockwell's two biomorphic blob- and arc-defined paintings from a series called "5/02," which seem like stylistic exercises untethered to purpose.

And as for more naturalistic work, gallery owner Hai-ou Hou has brought together several artists who depict everyday life from her native China. Most of these paintings, such as Jia Bao Hua's "Old Tree," "Courtyard," and "Gateway," are pleasingly direct pictures of city streets and houses, but Ou Yang De Biao's two pastoral landscape paintings would be technically mediocre in any culture. Gallery International may still be finding its way, but it's still taking chances in introducing new artists to Baltimore viewers.

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