Molly Larkey’s show at Luis de Jesus Gallery, The Not Yet (or the Dictionary of Insubordinate Geometry), combines all of the elements she has explored for a significant portion of her career to date. Larkey has often experimented within the grey area of art making—the spaces between set definitions, where soft meets hard, painting meets sculpture, shapes meet meaning. The display of steel sculptures wrapped with linen along with the textured paintings that compliment them, are explorations into the possibilities of art, language, color, form and material.
There is something idiomatic in nature about Larkey’s exhibition—suggestive of an ancient, (or futuristic, we can’t be sure) intelligent presence. Without knowing anything about the context of the work viewers note its use of symbols, or to be more accurate, its use of shapes that almost look like symbols, and the way those shapes change as that viewer walks around them. Wanting to form these shapes into meaningful signs in their head, viewers wonder if Larkey has implemented marks from a lost language or system of codes, and their brains seek to identify it.
In reality, the forms do reference language, but none of them actually means anything. Larkey is interested in the notion that the alphabet becomes an agent of oppression once it becomes a fixed system. She wonders about the possibilities for art to aid in our ability to communicate, and envisions a world whereby language and meaning are re-imagined. For Larkey, the freedom held within her re-imagined language stems from envisioning a queer utopia whereby the new system of signs fosters a more inclusive, and less hierarchical society.
For me though, having watched Larkey explore the theme of sign, signifier and signified throughout many different mediums and forms over several years, these works are the most elegant iteration of that interest to date. They incorporate all the concepts that motivate her, color, form, language and medium, and engage the viewer viscerally and interactively, as well as conceptually. They also embody the rebellious streak that finds itself in all of Larkey’s most successful works. The title of the show itself, The Not Yet (or the Dictionary of Insubordinate Geometry), suggests a defiance of the existing, known and structured rules, as well as the possibilities for what might happen should we abandon them. This rejection of that norm leads us to the absolute and most important aspect of Larkey’s body of work: that art is the medium by which we can envision and shape a more perfect world.
A must see, the show closes Saturday, February 14. For more visit www.luisdejesus.com
*photos courtesy of Molly Larkey