Side By Side: a Review of Two Artists One Space

Sharing a space can be challenging. However, the execution of Two Artists One Space, currently exhibiting at Greenhill, leaves few seams visible in the pursuit of combining two narratives. As one might predict, the exhibit features the work of two artists on a mission to explore different themes regarding identity and belonging through mixed media and multi-dimensional installations. The featured artists include Guilford professor Antoine Williams and Peruvian native Renzo Ortega. When placed next to each other William’s and Ortega’s works both highlight similarities and celebrate the differences between the narrative of black communities and the experience of immigration in the U.S., which coincidentally for both artists centers in New York.

Walking into Greenhill, Williams’s side of the exhibit is displayed first. His signature style of mixing dark figure prints on a collage of newspapers and light contrasting paints is immediately recognizable and inviting. In this particular exhibit, Williams chose to engage with idea reproduction in a Warhol-esque manner, often showing two versions of the same print with slight variation side by side. Personally I found the display of You Thirsty N.Os 1 & 2 to most successfully capture his intended message.

Aside from Williams’s thematic collages, a stunningly unique mural featuring multimedia from seatbelts to prints of large science-fiction half human half edge and fracture stylized beings. The grey and black figures range from small to large in various crouching or standing positions. From what we can tell based on the human aspects on the figures that they range in age and gender identity. Few things are immediately recognizable to the eye: a child on a tricycle, a heart tattoo on an arm, the posture of a lady who is fed up. All however begin to morph into an unrecognizable alien quality that seems to center around being hurt, pulled, or forced by sharp defined edges. A message that speaks to how each of us may see our place in society.

Ortega’s side of the exhibit too deals with placement and displacement within a community. Much of his featured work plays with scale in relationship to the viewer, which alone can evoke a sense of displacement among anyone. His theme of red, white, and black creates an interactive scape that almost a makes the viewer feel as though they are walking through a cohesive city. His most striking installation in this exhibit however must be Moving In, Moving Out, a piece that serves to explore Ortega’s personal story of immigration and living in the U.S.. The installation features boxes precariously stacked, each with a different images painted in Ortega’s repeated colors, red, white, and black, that serve to recall Ortega’s personal experiences of life. In talking about this particular work of art Ortega mentions the importance of boxes, dubbing them “life containers”, which we use to transport items dear, or pack them away forever. Moving In Moving Out, functions on two levels, one being the artist’s intention,appearing various memories and experiences pleading to be unpacked, or two as a small thriving city, the stacks of boxes mimicking the variation of building size, with bits of life taking place at each increasing level.

Greenhill performed impressively the not so easy feat of telling two narratives at once. It must truly have been have been difficult to ensure two voices be heard together with a just difference in tone to be harmonious. Both artists beautifully represented their message; Greenhill gave them individual spaces to do so however they choose. Although I am left wondering why there was no overlap. Both narratives share similar themes, and it would be interesting to follow the stories the installations would build together. Antoine Williams and Renzo Ortega are the fourth installment of Greenhill’s experimental two-person exhibition series. The exhibit will be open through November 5, 2017 and I highly recommend the visit! Checkout Greenhill in the Greensboro Cultural Arts Center and make sure to check the bulletin board for opportunities in the community!

Greenhill address:
200 north Davie Street

Coming soon! An interview with featured artist Antion Williams! Stay tuned!

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