Arts Desk

Reviewed: Lisa Dillin at Flashpoint Gallery

Jean-Paul Sartre famously wrote that “hell is other people.” But hell may actually be having to work in an office with décor designed by Lisa Dillin. The Baltimore-based Dillin creates mixed-media works that seem to toy with the mismatch between what designers think people want and what they actually want. The most benign are pieces with additions that are merely unnecessary, such as the cube-shaped side tables that have four supernumerary legs. More slyly sinister are the pieces that are thoroughly undermined by infuriating features. A laminate-covered shelf is overwhelmed by a blinding, lily-pad green neon tube attached underneath; a superficially attractive matrix of wall-mounted shelving irks by leaving virtually no space to actually place anything inside; and a perfectly nice mirror is obscured by a trompe l’oeil rendering of venetian blinds. In one monumental-sized work, Dillin carves a series of splotchy holes into vertical blinds and lets a sickly yellow fluorescent glow emanate from them. The depressing title says it all: “Natural Lighting Emulator II.”

The exhibition is on view noon to 6 p.n. Tuesday to Saturday to June 2 at Flashpoint DC, 916 G St NW.

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  • Another perspective

    Hell is a critic that take themselves so seriously they actually miss the art.

    The Dillin exhibit is cute, quirky and fascinating; it’s the world taken for granted and presented to you again for a second look. If you like video games, you’ll like it. If you like sunshine, you’ll like it. The critic has clearly never seen either.

    Those tables? They’re funny little tree stumps. The blotchy cuts on the blinds? Dappled sunlight filtered through trees (remember what those are?) There is even a silky, solar-colored shirt hanging just beyond the artificial window. Green neon? HTML grass brought to life. The odd shelves? Clouds – blue LED-powered breeze included. All rendered in crisp modern geometries and colors.

    It’s outdoor life made for indoor kids. I love this installation. It’s alive and rendered in crisp modern geometries and colors.

    Don’t worry, Jacobson. There’s a beautiful portrait gallery full of paintings of dead people just around the corner. You’ll fit right in.

  • Lou Jacobson

    Thanks for your analysis, which is a smart take on the exhibit.

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  • Lisa Dillin

    I am giving a talk at the Smithsonian Luce Foundation Center for American Art this Sunday at 1:30 pm if you would like to find out more about the content of, and inspiration for, the work in this exhibition.

    I might also interject that the idea of hanging an unprinted mirror or allowing more space for books and other items in the "shelving", or removing the legs of the "end tables" would transform the artwork into standard furniture for home use. Flashpoint is an art gallery not a home goods store therefor I find this suggestion confusing to say the least. Thank you for coming out to see the work.

  • Louis Jacobson

    I appreciate the invitation; unfortunately I won't be able to make it. Just to clarify, I didn't dislike the show; I just had a different interpretation of it. Thanks for commenting.