Patrick DeGuira: Signs, Patterns, Animals

When: Nov. 8-27 2012

Two words come to mind when considering the work of multimedia artist Patrick DeGuira: personal and perfectionism. It’s hard to think of a more meticulous local artist. Whether he’s building an installation, fashioning a sculpture or touching up a painting, it’s rare to see any detail not carefully considered, decided upon or executed with exacting rigor. With apologies to advocates of inspired amateurism, this is a good thing: Fine ideas are regularly undone by lazy or unskilled craftsmanship, and in more than a decade I’ve nearly never seen DeGuira commit such a sin. If there’s a downside to his exacting technique, however, it’s that the combination of his severe surfaces and the often obscure personal content he explores can make the work seem inscrutable. One of the best ways to approach the exhibition of text-based works DeGuira opens at Sarratt tonight is through its humor. A piece like “Steals Clock. Faces Time” offers multiple puns in tricky-to-read monotone gray, and it makes sense that the text in a painting like “Black Cat” might disappear before the viewer’s eyes. Laughing along with DeGuira’s work prevents overthinking what are often direct — if emotional, hilarious or profound — statements about death, the absurdity of the mundane and the drama of domestic life. If you want to know more, you’ll have to ask him yourself at tonight’s opening.

Joe Nolan


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