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For the next month, the gallery at The Distillery in South Boston is home to the abstract works of Patrick Maloney and Michael Mullaney. At times bright and colorful, sometimes somber and muted, always energetic, this little gem of a show is worth a look.

Michael Mullaney's “You Might Live In A Dome”, like many of his other pieces, screams from the wall with an energy reminiscent of Anselm Kiefer. In the center of the image, a tower marked with thick black charcoal looms over an abstract ground that radiates outward, seemingly both drawn to the tower and repelled by it.

This circular theme appears again and again in the work, always both attractive and repellant. In some, dark spheres (that look somewhat like planets, or perhaps angry disco balls) spin in the midst of a torrent of texture. Others, such as “Creature in Limbo” and “Creature Interrupted”, present blob-like shapes being torn apart (or maybe built up) in a maelstrom of texture.

Patrick Maloney's work is no less energetic. Yet, while Mullaney's works create deep spaces and abstract worlds, Maloney makes layered 2-d images that are part Picasso, part Miró, and part kindergarten. That's right: Maloney's works on paper are all made in Crayon, layered on the paper in thick primary colors. Dark lines swirl around each other to define borders, and every inch of the paper is covered in vivid waxy tones. Mixed in with the drawings are hidden occasional collage elements: a hunky man flexes in one, another reads “Baghdad” and “Evil”.

Maloney also has a few less vivid pieces in this show, the most striking of which is “Earthquake in Iran”. Using simple black marks on paper, Maloney has created a child-like map, drawn not of real places but of those imagined. The line wanders freely across the page, evoking both wonder and fear at a world larger than we can comprehend.

Abstract works, such as the 21 presented in this show, need to be experienced to be understood. The words of this review are only a small facet of what depth can be found in the textures of these images. At a time when our thoughts and actions are dominated by negativity (war, election, terror, crisis), perhaps a dose of visceral energy is welcome relief.

"Patrick Maloney and Michael Mullaney: Recent Work" is on viewSeptember 18 - October 23, 2004 at The Gallery at the Distillery, 516 East 2nd Street, South Boston.

All images are courtesy of the artists.

About Author

Matthew Nash is the founder of Big Red & Shiny. He is Associate Professor of Photography and New Media at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and was the 2011-12 Chair of the University Faculty Assembly. Nash is half of the artist collaborative Harvey Loves Harvey, who are currently represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston and have exhibited in numerous venues since 1992.

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