New Haven Linda Lindroth has been confounding expectations for three decades, refusing to keep within the confines of what people perceive to be her medium, photography. Primarily hung in one large space, with smaller clusters of images in two adjoining rooms, Lindroth’s solo show at Giampietro, “Trickster in Flatland,” featured 14 pigment prints from 2011 and 2012, along with six 20-by-24-inch Polaroid prints created between 1988 and 1999. The Polaroids present Lindroth’s earliest exploration of color relationships within the 20-by-24 cam- era’s limited depth of field. In three 1988 works on display, a green-gray color depicts the deep space across a room.
In addition to color, another of Lindroth’s longtime preoccupations is flatness. In a famous 1955 essay, Clem- ent Greenberg championed the art of American Abstract- Expressionist painters, arguing that their emphasis on flatness marked their work as the next stage in modern art. Lindroth’s new photos are largely images of cardboard boxes—mostly from the mid-20th century, with one dating from the 19th—collected by the artist and taken apart, flattened and photographed. The resulting works are mounted high on the gallery
wall. From a distance they appear three-dimensional, but when you get close, you see that they are flat prints.
The knowing eye perceives, and the titles divulge, the influence of Howard Hodgkin, Dan Flavin, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Motherwell and Sylvia Plimack Mangold in these pieces. Elegy, Robert (2012) makes a clear reference to Motherwell’s haunting Spanish Civil War paintings. In more than 150 monumental black-and-white works executed over many years, Motherwell painted two or three verticals accompanied by ovoid shapes. For her elegy to those paintings, Lindroth has used three tiny mascara boxes side by side. Her photograph shows enlarged versions of the boxes, which in their flattened state have bomb- or missilelike shapes. Thus the artist creates new forms while also echoing the unsettling feelings elicited by Motherwell. Elsa (2011) is shocking pink and its subtitle, Pink Schiaparelli Box, reveals the object’s former life as the posh packaging for designer shoes. The intensity of Schiaparelli’s signature hot pink is juxtaposed with the ordinariness of the exposed plain cardboard in the bottom corners of the box.
Taken together, Lindroth’s latest work is simultaneously an exploration of art history, artistic process and deconstruction, in both its literal and literary senses. We are reminded of the time we spend breaking down, almost unconsciously, the many, many boxes of our lives. Literary deconstruction aimed to disclose how oppositions work and, in doing so, to create new concepts and new understandings. In her show, Lindroth, the “trickster,” breaks things down to offer up new insights.
Photo: Linda Lindroth: Elegy, Robert, 2012, pigment print, 44 by 71 inches; at Giampietro.