Although the Mosches have been married for 30 years, they don’t seem interested in artistic collaboration in this exhibition, where they’ve focused on their differences under the opposition of “Inside/Outside.”
Steven Mosch’s works are landscape photographs and represent the Outside of the title. And Deborah Mosch’s small, abstract paintings represent the Inside, abstractions that she says relates to the inner life. However, it seems that whatever their intentions, it is the connections, the similarities that the combination brings out that I find the most interesting.
And these connections are not only the immediately obvious one that as long-time professors at SCAD, they are both accomplished craftsmen and technicians in their fields. Artists’ day jobs always influence their artwork. But other considerations emerge which are more interesting.
Non-representational abstraction is always difficult to write about, because it either focuses on design, in which the writer has to talk about color, balance, unity, etc., or the focus is on the spiritual (as in Kandinsky); or the emotional (as in Rothko, who always claimed he wanted to move the audience to tears). For me, the most interesting abstractions have a mathematical concept that can be found in nature, and a meditative quality in the repetitive way in which they are painted. I’m thinking of Islamic calligraphy, Celtic knot designs, or even the geometric paintings of Mondrian.
This is where I would place Deborah Mosch’s paintings, in spite of the fact that she claims they are representative of her emotions. One of the small gouache paintings on paper, “Go Down to the Dock”, is a narrow, vertical rectangle composed of numerous thin horizontal lines that are blue at the top and bottom of the rectangle and change gradually towards the center, where they are red and violet. Though abstract (and I think the title directs us to see it this way), the lines are like lines on water that could be interpreted as a reflected sunset.
A recurring motif in Deborah Mosch’s work is a figure that looks as if a hand has squeezed a balloon-like substance, creating globular forms where the substance is free. In “Have Three”, there is a vertical chain of these rounded shapes, which, as it breaks at the top and bottom, implies a continual repetition beyond the frame, and maybe, eventually, circle back.
Photography, like objective drawing depends on one rigid point of view, as if the artist had his head in a clamp, and the viewer sees what he saw. In life, we naturally, tend to move our head all the time and to see panoramically. In order to do this photographically, it is necessary to take multiple pictures in a series and assemble them in a long strip. This usually necessitates assembling the photographs with obvious joins between them, as in David Hockney’s Polaroid compositions.
What is surprising in Steven Mosch’s panoramic photographs is their seamless joins. I went up close to see if I could tell how they were made. I couldn’t, and I think this might be because they have been assembled digitally. And then, as I looked, I noticed that in three of the eight photographs here, the image begins to return again in full circle, and repeat.
It does remind me of two things. One, the school group photograph, which, as the camera slowly pans, the joker in the class who has been standing on the left, rushes along the back and reappears, grinning, on the right.
The other thing it reminds me of, and this brings me back to what I noticed in Deborah Mosch’s work, is a focus on repetition and recurrence, the closed system of eternity as seen by the East, a kind of continuation that may be very attractive to us now.