The title Entropvisions is in homage to my mother, the poet and art critic, Harriet Zinnes. In 1990 New Directions published a collection of her poems titled Entropisms, a word she made-up combining entropy - the tendency toward disorder - and tropism - the growth towards or away from a stimulus. Similarly, my short reviews combine entropy and tropism by suggesting growth towards a vision of art from the chaos of the art world. Through the back door, my title also pays homage to my physicist father, Irving Zinnes, whose long discussions with my mom got her thinking about entropy and tropism in the first place.

Josh Dorman at Ryan Lee
The recent Josh Dorman show of his ”Wallpaper” and “Being” series was an intriguing journey into metaphors of perception, memory, dream, thought, knowledge, history – the list is endless. With his extreme technical skills, Josh collages antique wallpaper and book images of idyllic pastoral scenes, buildings of another time, and obscure and fantastical animals, with acrylic painting, pieces of thread used as lines and an infinite imagination, into volumetric spaces of layered allusion and allegory. In the “Wallpaper” series, the imagery, delineated, specific and set in a landscape space, creates an initial impulse to connect the dots logically, to find meaning between the individual collaged stories, but though each painting does have a theme, finding logical connections between parts is nearly impossible to do. Instead, each painting is a sensory gestalt, a whole story first, a story where we’re asked to let go of the rational, asked to give in to a floating sense of the unknowable, asked to merge romantic nostalgia with the unease of reality, where the images become symbols of meaning rather than representations of themselves. In some ways looking at a Dorman replicates the amorphous real-life experience of comprehending our world, of finding pattern and meaning amongst constantly changing data, memories and emotions. This elusive process of comprehension was most evident in the smaller, vertical paintings from the “Being” series, hung in the backroom. Painted with a luminous light within darkness, secondary images of faces emerge from the light, disappear, and reconfigure, much like the way our minds always create images: by giving form to the seemingly chaotic collection of visual stimuli our eyes constantly take in, a bit like finding faces in clouds or the man in the moon. Josh’s paintings are visually so persuasive that it takes a bit of looking to realize the conceptual depth and layers of questions underlying them, but exploring these complexities is well worth the effort. I’m sorry to report, however, that unfortunately this exhibition at RYAN LEE has just closed – I wish I had been able to see it before its last day.

detail of previous painting