Archive of Shadows: Andrew Douglas Underwood at SMU
A review of the Andrew Douglas Underwood exhibit in the Hawn Gallery of SMU's Hamon Arts Library.
If you were to go into the Hawn Gallery in the Hamon Arts Library at SMU right now, you’d think you’d entered an exhibit of some of the University’s collections of old documents – papers pulled out of a file to air out a bit and make us remember something we’d forgotten or teach something we never knew. It’s a very proper-seeming little space: display cases line the walls; everything is black and white; it’s visually and aurally quiet. A big painting of a bell hangs on the far wall; a to-scale drawing of Michelangelo’s Moses hangs on the right wall; there are framed maps and photographs. And though there is information aplenty in the cases and on the walls here, there are not, actually, any real historic documents. Rather, replete with all the decorum and precision that befits the informative setting of the library, you’ll find the research-based artwork of Andrew Douglas Underwood.
Underwood culls from historical vignettes — the past’s leaded little moments full of romantic undercurrents — and translates that information into folios, books and prints that aggrandize and play back history’s minutiae with an exacting factuality. By all appearances, the perfect accordion folios and archival boxes that are the stuff of Underwood’s art (all handmade expertly, stunningly, by the artist himself) seem to be records meant to instructively relay history. They look incredibly serious, undeniably important, resolutely truthful. But there is a streak of sharp wit that pierces the neat trappings of this meticulous work that delights in challenging and thoughtfully surprising ways.
More information on the exhibit, which continues through February 4, 2012.
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