Buhmann on Art: Joyce Kozloff at DC Moore Gallery

“Red States, Blue States” (2017. Acrylic and collage on canvas; 36 x 48 in.). Image courtesy the artist and DC Moore Gallery, NY.
“The Giant of New Jersey” (2017. Acrylic, collage, oil pastel, and photograph on canvas; 49 x 37 in.). Image courtesy the artist and DC Moore Gallery, NY.

BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN | Joyce Kozloff’s latest work — “Girlhood” — contextualizes her ongoing mixed-media cartographic collage paintings with her childhood drawings by incorporating them. This journey into personal childhood exploration began when Kozloff recently discovered a folder of safely stored elementary school drawings in her late parents’ home, after having to face the difficult task of packing it up. The result is a moving installation that aids in accentuating notions of wonderment and the thrill of discovery that has characterized Kozloff’s oeuvre for years.

Woven into stunningly layered assemblages of maps, figures, landscapes and still lifes, these works treat the world as an open invitation for exploration, a vast space that can be navigated from various distances. However, it also addresses the fact that over time, our worldview becomes something learned, impacted by clichés, misinformation, and doctrine. Having been engaged in feminist and political activism for decades, Kozloff stresses that the worldview of her “naïve public-school pictures” is, in fact, “further away from me today than the places were then.”

Thinking back to her childhood, she notes: “False scenarios about other times unraveled for many in my generation, although not everywhere nor for all Americans. And that’s why my conventional grammar school innocence feels weirdly relevant to me — within our polarized society, where so many people hold onto fantasies about recovering an imaginary past.”

The deeper one dives into Kozloff’s works, the more complex they become. Whereas they might simply appear whimsical and playful at first, a quality that is underlined by the inclusion of foreign dolls and 1950s goofy figurines, for example, they soon raise questions of stereotypes, the preservation of the natural world, and, especially, our responsibility toward children — whose innocent curiosity about the world should remain a source of inspiration and not a dream waiting to be crushed.

Through Nov. 4 at DC Moore Gallery (535 W. 22nd St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Hours: Tues.–Sat., 10am–6pm.  Call 212-247-2111 or visit dcmooregallery.com.

“Then and Now” (2017. Acrylic, collage, and found objects on canvas; 72 x 60 x 3 in.). Image courtesy the artist and DC Moore Gallery, NY.