Elephant skin. Human knuckles. A houndstooth suit. Stacks of linen sheets. Glossy blonde hair. These are just some of the things that I noticed in Lynne Rotholtz's latest series of collages at Pioneer Square gallery ZINC Contemporary. Her solo exhibition re Cast finds the multimedia artist creating collages using a cache of vintage magazines mainly from the '30s and '40s that her family inherited.
Rotholtz uses the textures, colors, lines, patterns, and other bits and pieces from these magazines to "cultivate the unexpected." The organic and unfamiliarly familiar nature of the shapes in her work reminds me of the body, like the inner ear canal, the lymphatic system, the pelvic bone. It's my mind trying to contextualize and make sense of something that's meant to be seen without any context whatsoever.
"The main factor in how I decide what goes into these pieces is whether they create some new or random abstract association—a new combination of line or texture or color," Rotholtz tells me over email. "I was interested in how each one was different, even though as a whole there is a similar look and shape between the pieces. For this series, I was also trying to create a weirdness or eeriness—a presence that the viewer can’t really pin down."
For me, the key to understanding how to look at Rotholtz's work lies in her "Lo Fi Bonsai" piece. First, I suggest you stand several paces back from this collage. From afar, it's easy to see how the shape in this print resembles the fragile silhouette of a bonsai tree whose branches curve at strange angles, looking surreally bent by a strong breeze, like it's straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. This is when you should move in closely. Slowly, you'll be able to see all the moving parts of what makes this image. And now is when you make the delightful discovery that Rotholtz has composed this "bonsai" out of clippings of various blonde hairstyles, perfectly coiffed and curled together, all held up by a giant hand.
Rotholtz's work seems to build intuitively on itself—there's nothing that feels forced about how it comes together. "I kind of look at [the collages] as creatures, or protruding blobs, because they weren’t created with any pre-planned theme or shape, other than interesting color combinations, textures, and movement. They kind of 'arrive' when it feels right to stop," she tells me. This idea of seeing both the forest and the trees, this attention paid to how parts make a whole of something uncategorizable, is a deeply fascinating look into her imagination as well as our own. re Cast will be up at ZINC until February 2nd.